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No One to Come Home 
Marinelli Stadium 


Rick Symonds 

Rock Valley College 

Rick Symonds '■■■• monds- ! 

English 101 IND 
30 November 20(h) 

No One to Come Home 

The Rockford area has Jacky Deery's Rockford Speedway to the north with racing 
2-3 times a week.. Magic Waters theme park on the east side and the Metro Center in the 
center of town housing the IceHogs hockey team and the Lightning basket ball team. 
With all of these places promising family fun and excitement., it can be a daunting task 
bringing a sports team to Rockford competing for revenue when the current fan base is 
aireadv thin. Down in Black Hawk Park, minor leasue baseball tried valiantly to measure 
up to this task, but has always come up short Let us take a look at where the park has 
come from, since the purchase of the land to the last minor league occupant and also why 
bringing in minor league baseball has not worked. 

The land where Black Hawk Park is located w r as purchased in! 91 1 by the Rockford 
Park District and at the time was called "Lathrop VVoods"(Star 191 1 ). The park was 
renamed Black Hawk Park to recognize a great Sauk Indian warrior named Black Hawk 
(Barrie Handout). He was known more for his peace keeping and watching over his 
people than for his fighting (Barrie Inter). There were many different tenants that 
occupied Black Hawk Park before baseball was played there, and many forgotten. 

The first occupant of Black Hawk Park was a zoo that opened on August 21 st , 1919. 
The Rockford Zoological Society officially opened the zoo for about $5,000. The zoo 
had many animals on display including the largest, an elephant, named Big Babe who 
was a gift from Ringling Brothers Circus. She was born in Calcutta, India, and according 


to the newspapers of the day, she was 106 years old. This was proved incorrect after 
further investigation and her age was actually around 65 years old. G. J Boehland 
donated a Buffalo to the zoo as well as a $5,000 donation to help purchase more animals 
and for building additional cages. There was a contest that followed the arrival of the 
Buffalo to decide on a name. The winner was fourteen-year-old Leslie Dunlap. She won 
the contest with the name "GUS". By 1920, a Bengal tiger was acquired and a monkey 
house was erected. The zoo did not last long and was closed by 1 92 1 , less than two years 
after it opened, due to financial problems. Other reasons for the demise of the park were 
placed on ineffective planning, unrealized expectations and lack of financial support. 
Communities were starting zoos as fads at the time and this zoo never caught on in 
Rockford. As a result, the animals were sold. Big Babe was sold to a Circus in Mexico 
(Star 1949). 

Black Hawk Park's next resident was a tourist camp in the 1 920s. The Rockford Park 
District operated the camp from the early 1920s to 1929. In 1929, the Park Board 
decided that operating this kind of camp was not a proper Park District function and the 
facilities were not adequate for a tourist camp and the camp was subsequently closed 
(Barrie Handout). 

Baseball began in Black Hawk Park in 1914 with the creation of the first bail 
diamond, but this was not the beginning of baseball in Rockford (Star 1949). Baseball 
started in 1865 and, at the time, Rockford was called 'The Cradle of Baseball." The first 


basebail in town was made when an old rubber shoe was melted into a ball The ball was 
then covered in yarn Orange peels were cut to the shape of the ball to make the cover 
(Star 1 962). The orange peels were sent to a leather worker who used the orange peels as 
a template to make a leather cover The first team in town started in 1 865 and was called 
the "Forest Cities'" They played most of their games in Fairgrounds Park until they 
disbanded in 1871. The most noted player from the Forest Cities was AG. Spalding, a 
pitcher, who was most noted for his "Round House Curve:" He went on to pitch for five 
years in Boston, all championship seasons, pitching 4-5 times a week. He was eventually 
enshrined in the Hall of Fame AG. Spalding did sports a favor when he started Spalding 
Sporting Goods. In 3 867, the Forest Cities became one of the first "play for pay" teams. 
In 1869, the Forest Cities played the World Champion Cincinnati Reds and won 8-2 (Star 

After the Forest Cities, the "Peaches" came to town in 1943. This was a professional 
women's baseball team. The Peaches played most of their games at the now empty and 
almost invisible Beyer Stadium as well as some being played in Black Hawk Park 
Today, all that is left of Beyer Stadium are two small brick buildings where people 
entered. Initially, people came out in droves to watch and support the Peaches. In 1944, 
80,000 people watched them with a game high of 3,3 13 spectators. The Peaches" run 
ended in the early 1950s (Star 1988) 


hi 1947, the Rockford Rox were the next team to give minor league baseball a try (Star 
1948). Forty thousand dollars was raised to bring in a "C" team that was part of the 
Cincinnati farm team system. "C" teams were the lowest level of farm systems and had a 
hard time drawing good players. Farm teams are minor league systems put in place to 
help players hone their trade and provide a way to move up to the major leagues. The 
Rox also played at Beyer Stadium. A lighting system and additional seating were 
brought in to accommodate fans. But since players were not as good., games were sloppy 
and the result was low attendance. This led to the team demise in August of 1 949. 

The ball diamond in Black Hawk Park was renamed in 197 J as Maririeffi Field. This 
was done in honor of Louis F. Marinelli, a late manager of the Rockford Blackhawks that 
used the field in Black Hawk Park. He died from cancer after being manager from 1963 
to 1970. . Louis had an incredible winning percentage as a coach, 79.1%, as he built the 
Blackhawks into a state powerhouse, winning state titles in 1969 and 1970 and taking 
third in the national tournament (Souven). 

The last round of baseball teams that occupied Black Hawk Park got started in early 
1 986 when State Representative John Hallock, R-Rockford, started working on how to 
bring a minor league baseball team to Rockford. He hoped to bring, a Triple-A team to 
Rockford, preferably a minor league affiliated with Chicago. He also started looking for 
places for the team to play, one being at Rock Valley College. Rock Valley 
Athletic Director Ed Delaporte was surprised about the chances of RVC's diamond being 
used for minor league baseball. "1 know absolutely nothing about that. Our field is a 


spring diamond with no water on it. It can't work in the summer. We don't play on it in 
the summer," he said. "1 dug it by hand myself," Mr. Delaporte went on to say but felt 
that it would also be "one more plus for our town". Since the cost of getting water and 
electrical needs to- the field and having to work around the school's games, John Hallock 
decided to go to Black Hawk Park (Star 1987). 

When the neighborhood around Black Hawk Park found out about the possibility of a 
minor league team coming to Black Hawk Park, not everyone was happy. Mrs. Patricia 
R. Dobel of Rockford was one of the outspoken ones towards the possible new tenants. 
She was concerned that a wall around the stadium would be ugly, becoming covered up 
with graffiti and the beautv of the park would be lost. She was also concerned that the 
amount of trash would increase with more activity. Another area of worry was that the 
late night games would be noisy and the bright lights would bother the neighborhood 
until 10.30 at night (Star 1987). The last sticking point was the sale of alcohol. Park 
District Board President, Edwin W. Carlson did not want alcohol sold at the games and 
was out voted 4-to-l . Research revealed that 20% of the revenue would come from the 
sale of alcohol (Pearson June). 

State Treasurer Jerry Cosentino helped funding and financing for the stadium by 
working with Amcore Bank. A $1.5 million check would be officially donated during the 
ground breaking in 1987 The money was put in Amcore Bank at a rate of 6.5% and was 
then loaned to the Park District at a rate of 7.75% (Pearson July). 


Once the financing and location were decided upon, an architect and builder needed to 
be established. The decision on how much would be spent was set at $1 million and what 
the stadium would look like would now be open to bidding. Requests for bids resulted in 
five different quotes from Rockfbrd Metal Structures, Sjostrorn & Sons, Richard L. 
Johnson, John Fridh & Sons with Rockford architectural firm Smith Tyson & Associates 
with prices ranging from $1.3 to $ 1 . 7 million. The bids came in with so much variation 
that it was hard to compare them to each other. Each company was asked to go over their 
initial bids, reduce costs and they were given guidelines to make sure that all bids 
covered the same items. As the bids came in, they sat down with the Park District Board 
to go over each one individually When the dust settled, Rockfbrd Metal Structures came 
up the winner. A couple of the points listed as to why they won the contract were that the 
building materials would require less maintenance, painting and colored box seats. With 
the decision or how the stadium would look in the books by August 6 , 1987, ground 
breaking soon followed in September of the same year and completion in April of 1988, 
just in time for the start of the season (Pearson July 25, 1987). 

The first season began with the Rockford Expos, which were affiliated with the 
Montreal Expos, and was probably the best team and season that a Rockford minor 
league team ever witnessed. There were 10 players from that first team who made it to 
the professional level with the biggest name being Deiino DeSheilds. That first team 
also set attendance records that still stand today. The records set were for a single game 
attendance, 6,776 and for a season, almost 160,000 people. The Expos ended up leaving 


town after five years. 

The Rockford Royals, who were affiliated with the Kansas City Royals, filled in the 
next two years. The second year saw the best regular season record as the team went 89- 
50 and won first place. The third team was the Cubbies, which were affiliated with the 
Chicago Cubs. There was high hope for this team to make it long term since the Cubs 
major league team was just up the road. Hope was that a major-league player needing a 
quick rehab could do it in Rockford and not have to travel long distances to a Tripe-A 
team. This did not work out and after three years they left town. The Reds were the last 
minor league team to play at Marine!!! and the only reason they were even here a year is 
because they were moving to Dayton, Ohio and their field was not ready (Rockford 

Rick Symonds visited the field around the Fourth of July in 1998 and liked what he saw 
and enjoyed the game. "] always wanted to go and check out the park but never took the 
time When J finally went, 1 was surprised at how easy the park was to get to", he said. 
"1 live north of Beividere and was able to take bypass 20 to South Main and it took me all 
of about 30 minutes. When ! arrived, I found the stadium to be nestled in a beautiful 
park next to the Rock River. Parking was a breeze and it only cost about 10 bucks to get 
my three kids and I into the game. The concessions were reasonably priced, seating clean 
and we had a good view. After the game, we were treated to a fireworks display that 
would rival most anyone else's in the area Too bad it won't last'"' (Symonds). 

IS Y ffiO uu S-o 

Winter has again arrived in the Rock River Valley without a minor league team, 

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Source List 

Bariie. Vance. Rockford Park District Historian. Personal Interview. November 6, 2000. 

Bank, Vance. Handout. September 4 th , 2000. 

Syftionds, Rick. Personal. November 13, 2000. 

Rockfbrd Morning Sta r. Rockfordiana. March 7 s 1911. 

Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana. May 20 th 1934. 

Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana. August 6 th 1948. 

Rockford Sta r. Rockfordiana. June 29 th 1949. 

Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana. March 1962 

Raymari, Charlie. "Rockfbrd may be home for minor league baseball". Rockford Register Star. 

February 9 th , 1987. 
Pearson, Rick. "Board says play bail"'"'. R ockford Re gi ster Star . June ity", 1987. 
Pearson, Rick. "State Ireasnrer negotiates loan for Rockford basebah \ Roekiord Register Star . 

July7 lh 1987 
Pearson, Rick. "Baseball-park bids over $1 million limit". Rockford Re gis ter Star . July 25 f ' 

"Please find another park for the team". Rockford Register Star . July 8 m 1987. 
Rockford Magazine . "1996 Rockford Cubbies Souvenir Program" 1996. 
Rockford Register Star April 3, 1988. 

Midway Theater 
The Jewel of the City 


Joy Medina 
Rock Valley College 
December 14, 2000 

Joy Medina 
English 101 IND 
30 November 2000 

The Jewel of the City 

Rockford, Illinois has many historic buildings in the downtown area. As you are 
driving west down East State Street you pass many buildings. There are people walking 
on the sidewalks, some getting a bite to eat at a sandwich place. Some of the buildings 
are as majestic as they were almost 100 years ago. Yet, there are some that no one paid 
attention to and are run down. 

Surveys showed that sixty five percent of moviegoers lived on the east side of 
Rockford in 1916 ("Midway Theater" 1). Rockford was a growing city at the time. 
Camp Grant was going to be stationed on the southeast side of the city and there were no 
recreational buildings on the east side to accommodate the soldiers (Palmquist Interview). 
Frank G. Hogland set out to build a movie theater on the east side. 

Frank G. Hogland was a local entrepreneur. He founded the National Lock 
Company, and was on the board of committees for Swedish American Hospital (National 
1 ). Along with Mr. Hogland, there where other financial backers with him. Ross P. 
Beckstrom was a local contractor and John H. Camlin helped with the project. 

J. E. O. Pridmore was the architect of the theater (Taylor-Thomas 1). Spanish 
Renaissance was the style that was selected for the theater. It is a three- story building 
with a ninety-foot high clock tower on the northwest side of the building ("Midway 
Theater Leased" 1 ). The architect designed the building to have four stores and the 
theater on the first floor. The second and third floors would have apartments and the 
second floor also had the projection booth. The basement was designed to have a 

Medina 2 

bowling alley with six lanes, a barbershop and a recreation room for soldiers at Camp 
Grant ("Midway Theater Leased" 1 ). 

The outside of the theater was made out of brown brick and with an ornate facade 
in the front. The facade was made-up of stone carvings that were made by Fred J. Reid. 
The designs of the carvings were of scrolls, flowers and the comedy and tragedy masks 
("Largest ,, l). There were two eight-foot fountains on each side of the building and the 
front of the building had a marquee that lit up the night. 

The theater was designed with the latest technology for 1916. It was also 
designed to meet Chicago building ordinances. The theater had twelve exits that were 
eight feet wide and the signs above them were run on electricity and gas ("Midway 
Theater Leased" 1 ). The Swords Brothers put in the heating and ventilation system on 
the market ("Largest" 1 ). They were able to heat the theater by passing the air through 
different "funnels" and the air was distributed to every part of the theater without 
creating a draft. They also had air conditioning in the summer. The air passed through 
water and then was distributed through the theater providing cool, clean air ("Midway 
Theater Leased" 1). 

The inside of the theater sat two thousand people. There were four sections of 
chairs. Because the theater did not have a balcony the acoustics were unique. A pianist 
from the Julliard School in New York said "the acoustics of the Midway compared 
favorably to Carnegie Hall" (Palmquist Interview). 

Carl Stromberg did the decorating in the building. He chose to use red, blue and 
gold for the colors. There were decorative arches on the ceiling with light around them. 
There were also decorative woodcarvings on the walls of the theater. Mr. Hogland found 

Medina 3 

the organ that would play music for the silent movies ("Largest" 1 ). The organ was 
placed on the left side of the theater (Palmquist Interview). The lobby was lined with 
Italian marble from floor to ceiling and the floor had a decorative tile. 

The theater was the largest in the area and the cost of the theater was one hundred 
fifty thousand dollars ("Midway Theater Leased" 1 ). The name became "Midway 
Theater" because it was in between Chicago and Galena (Palmquist Interview). Located 
at 721 E. State Street, a few blocks east of the Rock River, the theater opened August 
3,1918. Over eleven thousand people visited the theater that weekend ("Crowds" 1 ). 

The theater was used for showing movies, men's church meetings (held every 
Sunday), and the local symphony concerts. Today theater no longer shows movies, but it 
does have different concerts and shows. The theater has changed over the years. 

After World War II the basement was emptied. Later on, around the 1950s or 
1960s, the marble was removed from the lobby. The inside of the theater was painted all 
black and the original screen was covered with a Cinemascope screen, which was as long 
as the width of the theater. For a long time the Midway had the largest movie screen in 
the area (Palmquist Interview). 

Ascher Brothers a Chicago based company that had 16 other movie theaters, first 
leased the building. About four years later Mr. Lamb from Rockford took over the 
theater (Hickox 1). Years passed and the theater changed hands and Plitt Company 
managed the theater when disaster hit August 7,1980. 

A fire broke out that was caused by an electrical problem in the restaurant on the 
first floor. The theater suffered more than one million dollars in damage (Palmquist 
Interview; Taylor-Thomas 1). The roof collapsed, and the whole front of the building 


Medina 4 

was damaged heavily, but the theater was unharmed. The theater had a firewall built 
around it that protected it from the second and third floors, and the surrounding walls and 
floor of the building (Palmquist Interview). 

After the fire, Plitt Company sold the theater to Marvin Palmquist. Palmquist was 
a local entrepreneur and founder of television Channel 39. He purchased the theater for 
one hundred thousand dollars and he hired architect Gary Anderson to do the remolding 
of the theater. The reconstruction was done in two phases. 

The first phase was restoration and renovation of the lobby and the theater. They 
added a five-thousand- square foot television sound stage, a fifty-by-fifty- foot moveable 
TV light grid, a new electrical system and dressing rooms backstage on three floors. 
There was storage space for instruments, props and sets. Three hundred seats were 
removed to accommodate the stage. The second phase consisted of remolding the second 
and third floors. The apartments were taken out and office suites are there now. There 
are TV recording rooms on the third floor. The total cost of the remolding was over one 
and half million dollars (Palmqist Interview). 

In 1998, another fire broke out and when the fire fighters contained the fire the 
building was a half an hour away from total destruction. A fan running in an office all 
weekend caused this fire. A policeman discovered the fire on his nightly rounds 
(Palmquist Interview). 

Marvin Palmquist died in February of 1998 and Mary and Andrew Palmquist 
(daughter and son of Marvin) were left to run the theater. In March of 2000, the theater 
went up for auction and was bought by an unknown group. 

Medina 5 

The Midway Theater was the jewel of the city at the beginning of its life. The 
theater is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the East Rockford 
Historic District (Taylor- Thomas 1 ). Hopefully the theater will keep the history of 
Rockford alive for long time to come. 

Joy Medina 
English 101 BSfD 
30 November 2000 

Work Cited 

" Beautiful New Theater Ready." Register Gazette 1 August 1918. NP. 
" Crowds Jam New Theater." Register Gazette 5 August 1918.NP. 
" Flannery Will Manage Midway." Rockford Morning Star 

22 February 1918. NP. 
Ffickox, Lou. "Dean of Movie Operators Watched Industry Grow Up." Rockford 

Morning Star 8 January 1946. NP. 
" Largest Exclusive Motion Picture Theater it the West Opens 

Saturday Evening, August 3 rd " Rockford Morning Star 28 

July 1918. NP. 
" Midway Recalled; 'Like Old Friend. '" Rockford Register Star 

9 August 1980. NP. 
"Midway Theater Leased to Movie Man of Chicago." 

Rockford Morning Star 20 November 1917. NP. 
The National Lock News . Vol. 2 No. 6. Jan-Feb 1939. 
Palmquist, Mary. Telephone interview. 4 November 2000. 
" Rockford' s Beautiful New Midway Theater." 

Rockford Morning Star 3 February 1918. NP. 
Schrrrit, Michael. Personal interview. 4 November 2000. 
Taylor-Thomas, Antionett. "The Midway Theater Through Time." Rockford 

Register Star 30 January 2000. NP. 

The Midway Theater was one of 
the "great houses" that brought 
the world to Rockford on film 
and in live performances by top 
stars. It was, in its prime, a 
bridge over the "troubled waters 
of poverty and war. 


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View after the Midway Theater fire 
Aug. 1, 1 980, showing the un- 
damaged south half of the building 

and the Lloyd's Hearing Aid byild- 
iog, top right. (Fred Hutcherson 
photo) • 

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Midway Theater in early 19§0's 

Inside the theater when the lighting grid was being installed. 

New American Theater: 

A "Beater" Turned Into A Theater? 



A Silver Celebration 

Tim Akre 

Rock Valley College 

Professor Scott Fisher 

14 December 2000 

Akre - 2 

Tim Akre 

Rock Valley College 

14 December 2000 

New American Theater: A "Beater" Turned Into A Theater? 

New American Theater, or NAT as it is quite frequently called, has made a home 
in the city of Rockford. One could think of this professional theater as the crown jewel of 
the city. NAT, like a great warrior through thick and thin, has had its ups and downs, 
fighting hard to stay alive in this diverse community. Even though some people think it 
is too tough of a battle to win, Jim Orlando, a new NAT Board Member, seems to think, 
"NAT is here to stay." With quotes like this it is easy to consider that this opinion is 

NAT has been around for almost thirty years and has managed to survive and 
blossom not only from the city and community support but also mainly from one man, 
the survivor, J.R. Sullivan, the founder of NAT. This man's dedication and drive has 
kept NAT alive when most men would have given up long ago. 

The idea of NAT was thought of long ago when Sullivan was in high school. It 
was 1969 and it was the opening night of his high school's play "George M.," in which 
his good friend Charlotte Powers starred. Charlotte, who was fifteen, was on her way to 
the show when a drunk driver took her life in a car accident. This was all Sullivan 
needed to start something in theater in the memory of her life (Christianson 24). 

It all started in October of 1972 at its first location at Charlotte's Web, a former 
synagogue, at 729 First Ave. Charlotte's Web was a coffee house and folk-song Mecca 
that was owned by a friend of Sullivan's who rented the second floor to him. Sullivan, 
being only twenty years of age at the time, and along with a group of friends from college 

Akre - 3 

jumped at the chance to start a theater. "Room Service" was NAT's very first premiere 
production (New 2). 

Two years later, NAT moved out, mostly because music from the Web was heard 
through the floorboards and the departing footsteps of the audience were too much for 
each other. So, for the third season, they rented the Rockford Women's Club Theater on 
317 Park Ave (New 4). 

The fourth season in 1975 brought them to 1 18 S. Main St., which was a number 
of different things before they moved in. The building had formerly been a hotel, Triad 
Toy Store, and a Rockford Jaycee's haunted house. At the time this boarded up 
limestone building was purchased, it was deemed to be torn down by a wrecking ball 
(Rockfordiana NP). This building was in terrible shape and needed a lot of work. It took 
eighteen trucks to haul away all the garbage they cleared out of it. The building was 
completely rewired and it had come with no heat New 5). Even though a mild recession 
hit this area at this time, NAT ended up staying for ten years to the day from its first 
performance in this building. NAT moved out mid-season with their last production 
being "Great Expectations" on December 29, 1985 (New 14). What a weird twist of fate 
that the name of their last show is also a feeling among NAT members and the fact it was 
in the same building for exactly ten years. 

Then, in 1985, despite their debt to numerous creditors, NAT purchased the S.H. 
Kress Co. building at 118 N. Main St. The purchase was voted on by the City Council 
and approved to pay $100,000 to owner Ed Carlson, and to be paid back by NAT over the 
next three years on an interest-free loan (Rockfordiana NP). The building needed a major 
renovation that was planned to be about $600,000 but ended up being about double that 

Akre - 4 

(New 14). Most of the money came from fund-raising, but the rest of the money came 
from grants, investors, and the NAT board members. This site is still their home to the 
present day. 

Just as the buildings that have housed NAT and have supported its physical needs, 
so have the financial backers that have supported its monetary needs. From doctors and 
lawyers to large company representatives, the funding for NAT is as diverse as the 
community it dwells in. These board members play an important role in getting funding 
from their respective companies. Jim Orlando, a Woodward representative for the NAT 
board, helps get financial funding from his company. This is common among all the 
board members for an inside funding strategy to get their foot in the door that they are 
representatives of a local company. The board is also constantly working on fund-raisers 
from donated time and services from their members. 

Few people know that NAT is rated among the best theaters in the state. One 
contributing factor is it usually has at least one paid professional actor/actress in every 
production. It usually packs the people in the house every night, but it is still a little short 
on the number of season ticket holders. If there were more season ticket holders, then it 
would bring in more money and be easier to get out of debt (Orlando). 

NAT and the Coronado are alike in the respect that they are both theaters. It had 
been suspected that the reopening of the Coronado would play a factor in NAT losing 
some business. Actually, the two are different. The Coronado plays the bigger 
"Broadway" type shows whereas NAT produces more community-oriented plays. For 
example, "A Christmas Carol", which opens the week of Thanksgiving at NAT, is a 
seasonal play based on satisfying a community's wants. NAT has always been 

Akre - 5 

considered a community supporter because of its production choices. It is not always too 
beneficial, as Jim Orlando believes "they play a diverse range of plays to bring in the 
different types of crowd but as a result they are hurt financially." Even though Jim likes 
the play selection, he still believes there is room for improvement. But what are Jim's 
preferences? "I would like to see more comedies and upbeat plays. And dramas would 
be nice to see more of also." So, even with their debts, they are still willing to be part of 
the community they grew up with. 

As a community, it took time, but Rockford slowly built up support for NAT. 
Season ticket holders gradually grew every year (McLaughlin 25). Without this support, 
NAT would not have been able to move all the times it did, so it could try and expand to 
produce bigger and better plays. This whole time, NAT has been in it for the community, 
moving from one dump to the next best place and still able to keep their ticket prices as 
low as possible so everyone who wants to experience theater is able to. 

With every move, the theater got better. After fifteen years of being in the same 
building, it seems that NAT has worked all the kinks out and is running smoothly. The 
community, hopes that they keep getting better, but not at the expense of another move 
which could cause another setback. For the money and time they spent going into the 
present building, they should be able to expand on what they have for many years to 
come. There are currently no plans on moving into another building in the near future. 
How wonderful would it be to see a part of Rockford thrive to become a cornerstone of 
the city's history? Overall, this magnificent building deserves more credit and 
recognition than it already gets. It does a lot for this city and would be greatly missed if 
anything ever happened to it. 

Akre - 6 

Works Cited 
Christianson, Penny. "The Importance of Being Perfect." Rockford Magazine September 

1987: 22-28. 
McLaughlin, Rick. "Stage Presents." Rockford Magazine October 1992: 63-68. 
New American Theater. New American Theater 25 th Anniversary Edition: 1972-1997, A 

Silver Celebration. 
Orlando, Jim. Personal Interview. 16 November 2000. 
Rockfordiana files: Theatre - 3 (1972-1984), Theatre - 4 (1984-1989). 

~r, Htnv American T(w*t« 

The World At Your Fingertips 
North Suburban District Library 

Dolores G. Avila 

12 Dec 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Dolores G Avila Avila - 1 

12 December 2000 
English 101 SMF2 

The Word at Your Fingertips 

More people started using the North Suburban library after the district linked up in a 
cooperative system with the Rockford Library District, allowing patrons of either system to use 
the other if they held non-resident cards in 1964. 

In 1 966 the biggest problem was keeping the shelves filled with good, current reading 
material. Even then readers were demanding more of the finest and newest books. Paintings and 
records were being planned to be made available to library patrons as soon as space could be 
found to put them. The library was circulating about 1 10,000 books a year. There was no more 
shelf space in either the Main Library on Loves Park Drive or the additional rented space at the 
North Park Library. New books had to replace older ones. Use of the American Lending Library 
and careful book selection was one way of keeping the shelves stocked and replenished "North 
Suburban Library". 

District residents were asked to approve by referendum funds to build a new library, with 
construction to begin in early 1968. The Library Board had already purchased a lot and two-story 
home owned by Miss Esther O. West as the site of the new North Suburban Library. The new 
library would replace rented buildings at 535 Loves Park Drive, the main library, and at 734 N 2 nd 
St., the North Park Library "Plan Revealed". The purchase price of the site was $30,000. 
Moving the house and barn from the site was $700.00 plus another $2,000 to landscape it. The 
board figured on offsetting part of that cost by selling the house to be moved "OK $1 15,925 

Avila - 2 

Allen Patton & Associates, a Rockford architectural firm, and RJ Chitwood, Rockford 
Library Director who also acted as a consultant for the Northern Illinois Library System, were the 
ones determining building needs. The board was looking for a building to total at least 1,500 
square feet and probably more, which was the space of the two current buildings. The building 
would be big enough to hold 50,000 books and space for increasing this ultimately to 86,000 or 
90,000 without expanding the building. 

Federal aid totaling $1 16,000 was requested by the North Suburban District Library 
District board - the 25 percent maximum allowable to help provide Loves Park with a full-fledged 
library. While construction costs estimated at $463,697 were far above what the library board 
members anticipated, some $75,000 was expected to be saved in the first ten years of operations 
in the new building "Seek Federal Aid for Park Library". 

The North Suburban Library District's Board withdrew its application for federal 
funds. The district had expected to build the library with $1 16,000 in federal funds and a building 
fund referendum of $325,000. Federal funds were denied the district due to the small size of the 
library. Federal requirements were six-tenths of a foot of library area per person for the 
population expected 20 years in the future. By reducing the size of the building, no federal funds 
were needed. To avoid costs of such things as elevators, a single-story structure was planned. 
There was no full basement planned, just a rear corner for furnace, air conditioner and staff 
lounge area "Face Building More Expensive". 

The additional space needed for meeting federal standards would have cost about $66,000 
more than the original estimate of $463,000. The district would only have benefitted by about 
$50,000 in federal funds. Thus, the new library was built without federal aid "Withdraw federal". 

Avila - 3 

Voters in the North Suburban Library District approved, by almost a three-to-one margin, 
a $400,000 bond referendum for the constructing and equipping of a new library. The vote was 
445 yes and 159 no "North Suburban Library Approved". 

Open house for the new North Suburban Library was on October 1970. The 19,400 
square building was equipped with a juvenile room, community room, kitchen, adult section, 
partial basement, and reading lounge. The library also had audio-visual equipment. The audio- 
visual equipment consisted of listening booths, a screen and film projector, which was purchased 
with money from the Patrick Finch memorial fund. Finch was killed in Vietnam on June 4, 1969. 
A flag pole and flag were contributed by Mrs. Irl Martin "Library Open House". 

There have been many changes at the North Suburban District Library since October 1970 
when it was first opened. 

A 7,000 square-foot second story addition and renovation of the library was completed in 
August 1997 making the building more spacious with more room to work, read, study, and 

A new children's services department featured multimedia computers, video and audio 
tapes, along with a wide selection of books, a gallery for local artists, and a larger area for adults 
and young children. A special pre-school area was set up. Home daycare workers could bring in 
their children to do such activities as finger painting, cutting, and pasting. There is a story hour 
on a regular basis. Five computers with programs available for pre-school through grade three 
have been installed in the Children's area. For those in grades three through six, computer 
programs include "Reader Rabbit", " Mighty Math", " Carnival Countdown", to name a few 

Avila - 4 

Hanging on the landing going up to the second floor is the "Serenity" quilt. This quilt 
was done by hand taking 530 hours to sew. It is 95 by 76 inches and there are 22 animals in the 
scene. The district commissioned the quilt from artist and quilter Clair Powers for $1,000 

The Anderson Local History Room, named after long-time benefactor Art Anderson, has 
been moved to the second floor. The history room offers a collection of pictures, documents, 
newspapers and other pieces from the past "Werner, Peggy". 

A gallery for local artists has been established on the first floor. This is a great way for 
young aspiring artists to show off their work, and sell some of their items. The work of Axel 
Cruz was the first art work displayed "Werner". 

Display cases are found in the foyer and main building. These change on a six- week 
basis. Melody Newton, Display Coordinator at the library does all the arranging for getting the 
collection brought to the library and displayed. She contacts people herself and sometimes they 
contact her. Selection is based on number of pieces in the collection, the type of collection and 
how appropriate the collection is for display. This is another way the library is promoting 
enjoyment of art, library programs, and related literacy programs "Newton". 

Learning to use a computer is just one of the many free classes available at the library now 
that the Computer Lab Room is a reality. There are 12 computers and classes are offered on 
Internet use, library research and basic computer applications. Funding for the Computer Lab was 
provided by the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, using 
federal LSTA funding. Classes to learn how to do Genealogy are offered as are Basic Computer 

Avila - 5 
Skills classes and Internet Skills Classes. Teenagers can enroll in the Techno Teen class and learn 
how to navigate the web. 

On the main level, the entryway has been reconfigured with automatic doors for 
handicapped accessibility and an indoor book drop. Searching for a book is easier and more 
efficient with the computerized card catalogue utilized with a computer (George). 

Peggy Miller is now the Supervisor of Circulation Department. She started this position 
last year. She supervises 10 people - three of which are full time and the rest part time. Some 
changes she has seen is the advent of E-Mail which she described as a "mixed blessing." Staff 
meetings have been implemented and staff notes are done on a regular basis. According to Peggy 
changes are being done at such a rapid pace it is hard to adjust to all of them. She is most proud 
of the Computer Lab room. Peggy has found that people can be very generous in spirit and 
money wise. Patrons often give her money to help with improvements being done to the building 
Most recently she was handed a twenty dollar bill to be used towards the renovation of the 
History Room. Actions like this impress her and keeps her believing in the goodness of people. 
One thing Peggy mentions which this writer was not aware of is that GED classes are offered 
through Rock Valley College in one of the rooms there at the library. There are also classes in 
English as a Second Language offered at the library. 

Their meeting rooms are available to the public for use. Since the renovation, Peggy's 
work station has been moved to a central location on the first floor. This makes it easier for 
library patrons to ask questions and get help faster and more efficiently (Miller). 

Another of the many programs available at the library is through the Rockford Area 
Literacy Council (RALC). RALC offers free reading, writing and English language instruction. 

Avila - 6 

The majority of clients are Developmentally Disabled persons, people with a learning 
disability and adults who just didn't learn to read. Once clients are tutored on a one- on- one 
basis, they are then able to obtain a GED, decipher their bills, perform better at their job location 
and help their children with school work among other things (Sheffels). 

Searching for and selecting books will be easier in the future once the newer and updated 
computer system is installed. The Internet revolution will allow residents to search for books, 
videos, and magazines online, place holds on items and check to see if they have fines. The new 
system will also help library staff order and check in material more quickly. If the North Suburban 
District library does not have an item available, a check all of the libraries which are to be put in 
the computer system can then be done. This system will help in sharing resources among the 
library districts (Gary). 

Many changes have occurred since 1966 when the North Suburban District Library barely 
had room for 3,000 books No longer do patrons visit the library to check out the latest novel. 
Patrons are now checking out paintings, books on tape, video movies, and music on cassettes. 
Endless volumes can be found for researching any topic one has an interest in. For many taking a 
trip to the library now consists of going "on line". With only seven computers available to the 
public at 15 minutes each, the library now barely has room for computer space. 

In this reader's opinion, the library has become the place where knowledge can be found 
at the fingertips of one's hand. 

Avila - 7 

Works Cited 
"Face Building More Expensive Park Library To Get US Funds " Page 2 Section 2 The Post 18 

July 1968. 
Gary, Alex. "Area Libraries Join Digital Rrevolution." Rockford Register Star 14 Feb 2000. 
George, Mary. "Come See What's New at the Loves Park Library." Shopping News 3 Aug 1997. 
"Library Open House For Public Sunday." The Post 8 Oct 1970. 
Miller, Peggy. Personal Interview. Supervisor of Circulation Department, North Suburban 

District Library. 
Newton, Melody. Correspondence. Letter Display Coordinator, North Suburban District Library. 
"North Suburban Library Approved." Star 20 Nov 1968. 
"North Suburban Library Busy, Growing." Star 3 July 66. 
"OK $1 15,925 Aid For Park Library; Board Plans Referendum June 8 th ." Page 2 The Post 8 Feb 

"Plan Revealed For New Library." Rockford Register 27 July 1967. 

"Seek Federal Aid For Park Library Project To Cost $463,000 Ask $1 16,000 Aid; Eye Bond. 
Sheffels, Karen. Personal Interview. Support Services, Rockford Area Literacy Council. 
"Vote in March." The Post Page 2 23 Nov 1967. 
"Serenity." Journal 8 April 1998. 
Werner, Peggy. "Bigger Better Library to Debut August 5." Journal 30 July 1997. 

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An original quilt design by Claire Powers . 
Size: 95" x 76" 

July 22, 1997: First meeting with Ann Powell, Kathy Hoel 
Gloria Ford to commission quilt. The design took 12 hours 
draw and enlarge to finished size. 

August 15, 1997: Started work on the project. The quilt toe 
530 hours to sew. All applique and quilting is done by hai 

January 30, 1998: Finished working on the quilt. 

March 28, 1998: "Serenity is unveiled at the North Suburt 

Facts about the quilt: 

There are 88 different fabrics in the piece, not counting' the 

batting and .backing.. 

There are 22 animals to be found in the scene: 

2 red tailed hawks 

2 deer 

1 bob white 

3 blackbirds 

1 great horned owl 

1 woodpecker 

1 fox snake 

2 canvas back ducks 
1 squirrel 

1 opossum 

2 rabbits 
1 fox 

3 turtles 

1 nuthatch 

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North Second Street 

BEING CUT OUT OF PLANS for North Suburban library to be built opposite Meadow Mart is 33 by 
100 foot section at left, to hold construction costs within $400,000 total for which taxpayers' approval 
will be asked in special election at the two Park libraries on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The deleted portion may be 
added if needed and funds become available in a future year. Plans for the special vote are to be set by 
the board Friday. i : 

WITHOUT SOUTHERNMOST ONE-FOURTH of original area proposed, this is what new central library 
on southwest corner of N. 2nd and Burrwood is to look like. Having rejected federal money thai, wouiu have 
boosted total cost, North Suburban Library board has pared the plans to keep within a $400,000 total 
that local taxpayers could meet --which it hopes they'll approve on Oct. 29. 


TO HOLD DOWN COSTS, the only basement area to be excavated 
for new library -would be corner portion shown, for furnace, air con- 
ditioning, staff lounge and storage. After checking on costs and reim- 
bursement, architects ruled out idea of getting federal Civil Deieiibe 
funds, to provide full basement usable as community fallout shelter. 

(photo by Mary George) 
The North Suburban Library has added 16,000 square feet to its Loves Park location. Included in the expansion is a 

children's room or. rhe second floor. 

The Drive-in To The Robin Theater 


Matt Becker 

14 December 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Matt Becker 
English 101 IND 
14 December 2000 

The Drive-In To The Robin Theater 

In order to find out about the history of the Robin Drive-in Theater, first there 
will be an explanation of how the drive-in came about. 

In the 1930s, a man named Richard Hollingshead experimented with his idea of a 
drive-in. He nailed a bed sheet between some trees, put a 1928 movie projector on the 
hood of his car, and placed a radio behind the "screen" for sound. Hollingshead now had 
the makings of his drive-in. It took him three years to patent his idea after its initial 
conception. He opened the world's first drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey on June 
6, 1 933. Drive-ins did not really start to spread across the country until after the Second 
World War. In 1941 technology introduced in-car speakers by RCA that replaced the old 
bullhorns mounted on movie screens. Many drive-ins added features for the whole 
family, like playgrounds, train rides, pony rides, miniature golf, talent shows, and animal 
shows. The Drive-In Movie Association lobbied against the Day Light Savings 
movement of 1949 because it made many people reluctant to take their families out to 
shows that did not start until ten o'clock at night (Cohen). 

In 1 95 1 , a group by the name of H. & E. Balaban Corporation, from Chicago, 
purchased the Robin Drive-In Theater. The new owners were related to the heads of 
Balaban and Katz Corporation, Barney Balaban and Sam Katz. Barney Balaban was 
President of Paramount Pictures and Sam Katz was head of production at MGM for many 
years. S.L. Brenner and Jack Kolton owned the Robin Theater, at 6903 W. State St, up 

to this time. The theater continued to be managed by Harry Wren. The opening night for 
the 1 95 1 season was on Friday, March 30 th . The gates opened at 6:30PM and the first 
show started at 7:00PM. There were two shows nightly and prices for adults were 65 
cents and children under 12 were free. To get a good idea of the economy at this time in 
Rockford, gas prices were at 25 cents a gallon ("Buy Robin..."). 

On December 29, 1966, the Winnebago County Road and Bridge Committee 
traded parcels of land with the Robin Theater to eliminate a jog in Meridian Road where 
it crossed West State Street. The county traded two parcels of land it owned for one 
owned by the Robin Theater. Reconstruction of Meridian Road was scheduled for 1967 
("County, Theater..."). 

In June 1973 there was a movie playing at the Robin Theater called The World's 
Greatest Athlete that starred a Siberian tiger named Rajah Sylvester Morris. The tiger 
made a guest appearance at the Robin Theater and patrons could meet the tiger until show 
time (Siberian..."). 

Two years later, in 1975, the staff of the Robin Theater painted the concession 
stand red. white, and blue. They also painted a large "Spirit of '76" inside and a Betsy 
Ross flag outside to symbolize a happy 200 11 birthday for the U.S.A. (Fisher). 

In 1 984, Southland News Inc., the owners of the Robin Theater and the Sunset 
Theater, were battling with a Winnebago County ordinance regulating public showings of 
pornographic films. These films were being shown at the Sunset and possibly 
jeopardizing their license for both theaters. Southland News Inc. signed a covenant 
agreeing not to show these explicit films at either theater and received their operating 

license ("County Wins..."). Two years later in 1986, Southland News Inc. was denied a 
new license for Sunset Theater and both the Robin and Sunset theaters were advertised 
for sale. Both theaters closed before this season, never to open again (Sweeny). 

It was many years later, in May of 1990, when the Winnebago County officials 
were to put an end to illegal dumping that took place on Robin's vacant lot. The County 
Health Department and state's attorney teamed up to prosecute both illegal dumpers and 
property owners. The empty buildings of the Robin Theater were then demolished so 
that people would stop dumping in them (Ramhoff). 

Matt Becker describes his recollection as follows: 

I drive by what remains of the old "Robin Theater" every day to 
and from Rockford. I remember how surprised my girlfriend was when 
she found out there was a drive-in at the corner of State and Meridian 
roads. If you were not familiar with the area, you wouldn't be able to 
recognize there used to be a "drive-in" here. 

This intersection looks like nothing more than an empty wooded 
lot to someone passing by. A Whitehead Realty sign hangs facing State 
Street waiting patiently over the years for someone wanting to develop 
new business at this once booming location. Not too far from that realty 
sign is a telephone pole that has a wall of bushes and trees that smother the 
old sign. That sign would stand up and grab your attention as you drove 
past at one time, but now it's practically unidentifiable. With all of its 
letters missing and rust marks running down it like tears, it's as though the 

sign was sad to see its end. Growing up, I can remember the way that this 
area transformed. The large wooden framework of the movie screen, it 
took to different shapes over the years. Year after year there were parts of 
the screen that weather would have its way with. I still can picture how it 
looked as though a tornado swept across the screen, blowing it down bit 
by bit until the city decided it was time to take the rest down. Along with 
the screen, the concession stand was leveled since it was no more than a 
fire hazard standing. 

There once stood a brown knee-high fence that framed the entrance 
to this drive-in. Now it was hard to see where the grass started and the 
weeds stopped. In fact, the only things knee-high now are the weeds 
covering the entire entrance that used to be gravel. I can remember the 
sound the gravel made as it shifted under the tires of the car as you drove 
through the parking lot ready for the show that night. 

There was another gravel entrance off of Meridian Street for the 
moviegoer that was renamed, compliments of the city, with a sign that 
reads "NO DUMPING". One thing that remains the same now as to how 
it was when business took place at this theater was the sound of the 
crickets in the distance. The only difference is that they don't have an 
audience so the sound goes unnoticed now. Sometimes it would be hard 
to hear the movie between those crickets and someone munching on 
popcorn. In the springtime when the movie season would begin there was 

a prominent odor of the manure that was spread in the nearby fields. 
Luckily, the buttery fresh smell of popcorn could block out that smell 
from a distance. 

Most recently I drove my car through the old entrance and 
discovered how nature has tried to cover up the remains of the sign and 
gravel drive. The glorified shed that was once the concession stand only 
remains as a pile of shingles that were never properly discarded when it 
was demolished. 
Bob Honson is currently a realtor for Whitehead Realtors and is the realtor for the 
property where the Robin Theater was located. Bob says, "I have had many 
people ask me about the land. People have wanted to buy for commercial, recreational 
area such as BMX Bike Track, hunting, and industrial. They only wanted to ever buy 
one to five acres of this 26.5 acre lot. We list an acre for $9500 and the whole lot is listed 
for $252,000 of which no offers have been made in the last four years that I have been 
dealing with this land.'" 

Marion Becker tells of her experiences at the Robin with her family. "Today 
there is a lot of new businesses being built on the east side of Rockford. Every time you 
drive down East State Street you can see something new. Well, when the Robin was built 
it was the talk of the town because we never had anything like that on our side of town 
before that." 

Times like this had changed though and the "Spirit" they had painted was a thing 
of the past. Other drive-ins in the area had already closed or were not far from being 

closed. Lack of business is normally enough to shut a place down, but in some instances 
there was a public concern on letting the Robin's sister theater, Sunset, stay open another 
season. They had been showing explicit x-rated films that could be seen by surrounding 
residents. In 1986 when Winnebago County officials finally denied the owners of the 
Sunset their operating license the theater was forced to close (West). Consequently, the 
owners decided to close the Robin at the same time. The only other drive-in theater to 
remain open from this point on would be the Belford, which was located on Rockford's 
east side. The reason that drive-ins were taking a dive was because of the convenience of 
i he indoor theater as far as comfort and a better quality screen and sound. 

There is a group that recently formed called the United Drive-In Theater Owners 
Association that is making an effort to preserve currently operating drive-ins. There are 
drive-ins across the country reopening as drive-ins are making a comeback. There are 
even new drive-ins opening steadily across the country and it is only a matter of time 
before Rockford may see its comeback of drive-ins ("Drive-In Timeline"). 

Works Cited 

Becker, Matt. Personal Recollection. 27 Nov. 2000. 

Becker, Marion. Personal Interview. 27 Nov. 2000. 

"Buy Robin Drive-in; Season Opens Friday." Rockford Republic May 1951. 

Cohen. Rick. "Hollingshead's Story." 16 Sept. 2000. 
"County. Theater Land Trade Approved" Rockford Register Star 29 Dec. 1966. 
"County Wins Battle In War On Public Pornography" Rockford Register Star 

15 June 1984. 
"Drive-in Timeline." 16 Sept. 2000. 
Fisher. Robert J. "Drive-In Celebrates." Editorial. Rockford Register Star 3 July 1975. 
I Ionson. Bob. Telephone interview. 22 Nov. 2000. 
Ramhoff. Richard. "County To Put Lid On Illicit Dumping." Rockford Register Star 

22 May 1990, 7A. 
"Siberian Tiger To Visit Theater" Rockford Register Star 8 June 1973. 
"Sunset Request Denied" Rockford Register Star 13 June 1984. 
Sweeny. Chuck. "Millard Denies New License For Sunset Theater" 

Rockford Register Star 1 May 1986. 
West. Justin. "Robin Drive-In." 16 Sept. 2000. com/detail. lasso?-token.code=ilrobi. 


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Rock Cut State Park 

Greg Thomas 


Rock Valley College 

Greg Thomas Thomas - 1 

English 101 - IND 
November 27, 2000 

Rock Cut State Park, Worth a Trip 

Following World War I, in the early nineteen hundreds, the American public 
was in need of peace, and relaxation. This was especially true after the "Prohibition" 
period that lasted from 1920-1933 in the United States. It is evident from many of the 
developments of that era, that most American people were looking for enjoyment, 
peace, and prosperity in their lives. If not for them, for those who would succeed 
them. As a result of these ambitions, many of the recreational sites that are enjoyed 
today, began to take form. One such site is Rock Cut State Park, in Loves Park, 
Illinois. Rock Cut has been an area favorite recreation site, since its conception near 
the turn of the century. 

Prior to 1928, Rock Cut was privately owned land. It was very scenic, and 
serene. It had an abundance of wildlife. It was a great place to relax. And, it was a 
favorite picnic spot [ for a limited number of privileged folks ] ("Rock Cut Will Be 
Included In County Parks"). At that time, a person had to obtain permission from the 
landowner to enjoy this site. 

Thomas - 2 
In 1928, the Winnebago County Forest Preserve Commission announced that it 
had purchased 130 acres of land in the Rock Cut area that would be turned into Rock 
Cut Forest Preserve. Sixty of these acres known as Rock Cut were purchased from 
R.S. Remelhart for $6,000 . Another 70- acre tract of nearby timber was purchased 
from the McCarthy heirs for $7,000 . This land was purchased at a rate of $100 per 
acre. The commission also announced plans to purchase another 125-acre strip that 
lay between the Rock Cut, and McCarthy tracts ("Rock Cut Will Be Included In 
County Parks"). These initial plans totaled 255 acres. As it turned out, the Forest 
Preserve commission acquired only 62 additional acres of land in 1930, at the rate of 
$99.35 per acre. This brought total land acquisitions to 192 acres, at a total cost of 
$19,159.70, thus far (Rockfordiana File). After these initial land purchases, the 
Forest Preserve remained essentially as it was, except that it was now available to 
more people, without discrimination. 

During the 1930 s, the commission began excavation of the lake at Rock Cut 
(Campbell 112). A lake would add fishing, and boating opportunities to the Forest 
Preserve's offerings. It would also allow water life forms to inhabit the Forest 
Preserve. These initial efforts were limited, due to minimal funds that were available 

Thomas - 3 
through construction programs under President Franklin Roosevelt's administration. 
These initial efforts were affected by the "Great Depression of 1930". Additional 
road and shelter improvements were made between 1935 and 1941. These 
improvements appeased local citizens who were feeling let down by the lack of 
activity at Rock Cut Forest Preserve. Six years later, local support was generated to 
establish a permanent lake at Rock Cut, but this movement also failed due to lack of 
government support (Campbell 112). 

In 1954, Rockford State Representative William Pierce, for whom Pierce Lake 
is named, proposed a joint Winnebago-Boone County Conservation District for the 
creation of a 200-acre lake at Rock Cut Forest Preserve (Campbell 112). In 1956, 
State Governor William Stratton's proposed budget included a $165,000 appropriation 
for additional land acquisitions, which were needed to build Rock Cut Lake ("Rock 
Cut Is Chosen For Lake Site"). Note how the associated expenses for these land 
acquisitions had increased nearly ten-fold in less than a 30-year span. This is a true 
indication that "Worth" is relative. 

Meanwhile, in March of 1955, the Illinois Department of Conservation 
(D.O.C.) proposed a much larger 700-acre lake. Shortly thereafter, the State 
approved this new proposal, trumping William Pierce's previous proposal. 

Thomas - 4 

The park was to be built solely as a recreational facility around a 700-acre lake. This 
approved plan also called for a dam to be built on Willow Creek to create the lake 
(Campbell 112). To the dismay of local taxpayers, the estimated expenses associated 
with creating this lake increased to $525,000 (Rockfordiana File) , which was 40 
times greater than the initial land investment. 

The Forest Preserve Commission continued to acquire land as it became 
available, for use in the lake project. However, some landowners were slowing 
progress because they were hesitant to sell their land. Thus, there were 423 acres 
of privately owned land pending possible condemnation proceedings ("Rock Cut Is 
Chosen For Lake Site"). This was a good indication that the state intended to 
acquire the land by using the judicial system to leverage their influence. If 
necessary, the judicial system would decide whether a landowner would be forced 
to sell their land, and what the purchase price would be. Common man has little 
means of withstanding the pressures that government, and politics can inflict upon 
him. Yet several landowners still resisted selling their land. 

In November of 1957, the state entered litigation to obtain 75 acres of land 
owned by the Rock Cut Corporation, which consisted of Rockford Sanitary District 
officials. Meanwhile, another individual named Arthur Colville, held 34 acres. 

Thomas - 5 
The "corporation" declined a state offer of $368.75 per acre, and was holding out 
for $1,000 per acre. Colville refused to negotiate, and waited to see what the 
"corporation" received. This was a controversial issue because a jury would have 
to decide the selling price, and if it was too high, it could shut down the lake 
project ("More County Land Sought For Lake Use"). 

At this point, taxpaying citizens were very uptight about this issue. After four 
months of litigation, the Circuit Court jury set a $472 per acre selling price on the 
"Corporation" owned land. This was only $2 per acre more than the State's 
lowest appraisal of this land. The "Corporation" was disappointed with the court's 
decision, and indicated that they'd seek a retrial. After witnessing the verdict that 
the "Corporation" received, Arthur Colville settled for $367 per acre, which was 
$8 per acre less than his appraisers' value. He was also disappointed with the 
outcome ("Land Disputes Come To End"). The "Corporation", though 
disappointed, abandoned ideas of a retrial. The State paid for, and obtained these 
two tracts of land shortly thereafter. These were the only two cases that were 
settled through litigation, in Rock Cut's 72-year history. 

In September of 1958, the State purchased 206 additional acres for park use, at an 
average cost of $378 per acre. At this point, the State had successfully negotiated 

Thomas - 6 
on 75 percent of the land needed for the lake project ("More Rock Cut Land 
Acquired"). The State continued to acquire land from private owners, and by 
March of 1959, they had obtained all but 12 acres of the 720 acres that they 
needed for this project (State Owns All But Twelve Acres Of Rock Cut Site"). 

Meanwhile, in September of 1956, State Representative William Pierce 
obtained a $165,000 appropriation to further land acquisition, and cover engineering 
costs for the lake (Rock Cut Lake Site Is Definite"). Though he'd been trumped 
earlier by the Illinois D.O.C., he was still in the game. 

The dam was completed in December of 1960 ("New Rock Cut Lake Dam 
Tested While Crews Work Downstream"). Three months later, the "sluice gates" 
were closed, and water began to back-up, and fill the lake. It was estimated that it'd 
take anywhere from six months, to two years to fill the lake, depending on rainfall. 
Once filled, the lake would range from 15 feet average depth in the middle, to 36 feet 
deep near the dam ("Water To Begin Filling Rock Cut Lake This Week"). The lake 
filled quickly to its current 162 acre size, despite dry weather (Rock Cut Lake Pleases 
Officials"). It's interesting to note that the current lake size is close to the initial 
proposal of 200 acres, yet well below the Illinois D.O.C.'s proposal of 700 acres. As 
far as this author knows, the State never returned any "unspent" money. In 1961, the 

Thomas - 7 

lake was stocked with Bluegills, Bass, Walleyes, Northern Pike, and Bullheads 
(Rockfordiana Files). Also in 1961, the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District 
traded Rock Cut Forest Preserve to the state of Illinois, in exchange for Four- Lakes 
Fish Hatchery. From that time forward, the park would be known as Rock Cut State 
Park (Campbell 112). The park was officially opened to the public on September 5, 
1961. Five-hundered people attended the opening ceremonies, and it was at this time, 
that the lake was named in honor of Representative William Pierce, who proposed 
building the park, and lake seven years earlier ("500 At New Parks Dedication"). At 
that time, fishing and boating were possible, but swimming was not allowed in Pierce 
Lake, because the bottom structure made it unsafe. 

Rock Cut State Park was a huge success. Fisherman, campers, boaters, 
canoers, and oudoor enthusiasts used the park beyond initial expectations. In 1963, 
the park drew 84,576 visitors. During 1964, the attendance rose to 761,811, which 
was a 900 percent increase in just one year ("Rock Cut Attendance Up 900 Percent 
Since 1963"). By 1969, the attendance figures had risen to 1.26 million ("1.26 
Million Visit Park During The Year"). As a result of the park's popularity, the state 
continued to acquire land, as it became available. By 1968, the price of the land 

Thomas - 8 

purchases had risen to $1,900 per acre ("Costs For Rock Cut Park Land Pass 
$500,000 Mark"). Do the math. "Worth" is relative. 

All went well until 1970. At that time, park officials were planning to drop the 
level of Pierce Lake 12 feet, to force stunted panfish into open water where their 
numbers could be reduced by other game fish. It sounded like a good plan. While 
lowering the water level, a valve malfunctioned and nearly drained the lake. The lake 
had dropped 20 feet before the crews could repair the valve, and stop the leakage. 
[Talk about a bad day at work, that was one]. When the trickling stopped, the lake 
was nothing more than a couple of pools of water. Park officials used this opportunity 
to clean five truckloads of debris from the bottom of the lake ("A New Lake — Pierce 
Lake Facing Bottom Improvements"). It took several years to refill the lake, and 
restore the fish population to acceptable levels. 

In 1993, Loves Park residents Roland and Gladys Olson donated a second lake, 
50 acre Olson Lake, to the State Park (Campbell 112). Acquisition of this lake made 
swimming a possibility at Rock Cut State Park. Rock Cut State Park continued to 
grow over the years through land acquisition's, to its present size of 3092 acres. 


Thomas - 9 
It took the efforts of many folks to develop Rock Cut State Park. One person 
who stands out above the rest is Jasper Giacone. Jasper Giacone was instrumental in 
developing Rock Cut State Park between the years of 1960-1978. He helped plan, 
organize, and build many of the structures that are seen in the park today. He also 
helped design and build the camping area that we know today. He planted trees, and 
helped fill-in barren areas of the park. He helped plan, and build roadways, as well 
as parking areas (Jasper Giacone). He was able to accomplish many tasks, with 
minimal financial support from the government. It's been said that he was a "dry- 
docked pirate", a "20 th Century Robin Hood". 

In the beginning, plans were made to build $110,000 worth of blacktop roads in 
the park. The plan included a short cut around the lake, instead of the present 
entrance. Giacone said "I told them no. It was going to cost them $40,000 more to 
not to use that shortcut. I told them they could make up the money somewhere else. 
They were going to fire me for changing that road". As it turned out, they only 
approved $60,000 for the road, crushed rock, and two inches of blacktop. Giacone 
talked the contractor into doing the job for $60,000 . After that, Jasper Giacone 
replied, "When Springfield found that out, they said I could stay here". Giacone 
accomplished many tasks for pennies on the dollar. He said, "We got three bridges 
that never cost the state two cents; the Sea Beast put them in". It has been estimated 

Thomas - 10 
that Jasper's unorthodox methods of erecting the finest park facilities in Illinois have 
saved taxpayers $300,000 dollars, or more ("How To Build A Park - Jasper Giacone 
Did It With Donations"). Jasper Giacone was then, and is now, a true representation 
of a great American hero. 

It is evident that many people throughout the twentieth century have dedicated 
their lives, time, and money to develop Rock Cut State Park. The park has been 
recognized by dignitaries statewide, and at national levels for the accomplishments 
that have been made over the years. It is a park that benchmarks all others, both in 
Illinois, and abroad. It only takes one trip to Rock Cut State Park to realize that these 
assessments are accurate. 

Today, Rock Cut State Park is a favorite place of fisherman, bicyclists, 
hikers, campers, hunters, snowmobilers, sledders, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts 
alike. How can one place allure to so many people who have very different interests? 
Wildlife is abundant in the Park. It is not uncommon to see squirrels, deer, turkeys, 
opossum, skunk, muskrat, raccoon, or a fox. A person may even see an animal that 
they don't expect to see such as a coyote, or a mink. Birds are also abundant in the 
park. Ducks, geese, pheasants, crows, cranes, and many other birds are 
commonplace, including many species of songbirds. Rock Cut State Park is a great 
place to settle in and watch, as animal life goes on. 

Thomas -11 

Both Pierce Lake, and Olson Lake are home to turtles, frogs, crayfish, snakes, 
and many species of fish including largemouth bass, catfish, bullheads, crappies, 
bluegill, northern pike, walleye, and muskellunge. An experienced angler can tangle 
with many of these species on any given day. 

Besides enjoying the wildlife, Rock Cut State Park offers many other recreational 
activities. Summer swimming is allowed in Olson Lake between Memorial Day and 
Labor Day. The swimming facilities include showers, a concession stand, drinking 
water, and ample parking. There are many picnic areas located throughout the park. 
Each is complete with tables, barbeque pits, drinking water, and restrooms. For those 
who like to stay overnight, the park offers camping with amenities that rival those of 
home. For those who like trails, Rock Cut State Park has 12 miles of winding trails 
to entice and challenge hikers, bicyclists, and cross-country skiers alike. There is also 
a 14-mile equestrian trail that can be used by horseback riders between mid- April and 
November. Snowmobilers are allowed to use many of these trails from December 
through mid- April. Other possible winter activities in the park include: ice fishing, 
cross-country skiing, and ice-skating. People can truly enjoy themselves in the park 
while it is in a crystalline state. 

Thomas -12 
Rock Cut also hosts a handicapped deer hunt each fall. During this event 
handicapped hunters are coupled with able-bodied volunteers who help them enjoy this 
sport that they love. If not for this joint effort, this opportunity would not be available 
to many of these handicapped people. 

Regardless of where your interests lie, Rock Cut State Park offers something 
that you'll enjoy. Personally, this author likes to fish, bow hunt, watch wildlife, and 
relax in the great outdoors. Sometimes while relaxing in the great outdoors, a person 
can take note of the activity around them. It is common to see creatures working, 
playing, preparing, fighting, and generally carrying on in their day-to-day lives. In 
taking this in, and feeling the peacefulness that comes with it, a person can not help 
but wonder whether the hustle and bustle in our lives serves to relax those creatures 
who spend their time watching us. If you need to slow your life down, take a little 
time to enjoy Rock Cut State Park, it's good medicine for whatever ails you. 

Thomas 13 

Work Cited 

"1.26 Million Visit Park During Year". Rockford Star . 21 Sep. 1969. 

; 500 at New Park's Dedication". Rockford Register . 6 Sep. 1962. 

"A new lake — Pierce facing bottom improvements". Rockford Star . 25 Oct. 

Campbell, Craig. History of Loves Park, Illinois . Self Published: 
Rockford, Illinois, 1998. 

Costs for Rock Cut Park Land Pass $500,000 Mark". Rockford Star . 16 May 

; How To Build a Park - Jasper Giacone Did It With Donations". Rockford 

Star. 8 Mar. 1970. 

Thomas -14 
'Jasper Giacone". Personal Interview . 1 Dec. 2000 

"Land Disputes Come To End". Rockford Star. 5 Nov. 1957 
"More County Land Sought For Lake Use". Rockford Star . 5 Nov. 1957 
"More Rock Cut Land Acquired". Rockford Star . 18 Sep. 1958. 
"New Rock Cut Lake Dam Tested While Crews Work Downstream". Rockford 
Star . 11 Dec. 1960) 

"Rock Cut Attendance Up 900 Percent Since 1963". Rockford Register . 10 

Feb. 1965. 
"Rock Cut Is Chosen For Lake Site". Rockford Register . 19 Aug. 1956. 

'Rock Cut Lake Pleases Officials". Rockford Star. 13 Jul. 1961 

"Rock Cut Lake Site Is Definite". Rockford Star . 20 Sep. 1956 

"Rock Cut Will Be Included In County Parks. " Editorial. 
Rockford Register Gazette . 8-Aug. 1928: 6. 

Thomas -15 
'State Owns All But 12 Acres Of Rock Cut Site". Rockford Register . 3 Jan. 

'Water To Begin Filling Rock Cut Lake This Week". Rockford Star . 5 Mar. 

This, is Rock Cat Like. At least it is the beginning of the lake. Waters have been rising behind the earthen dam since last Satur- 
day,' when the gates at the base of the dam were closed.' View is northeast from the dam site. Waters now filling the lake, par- 
tially covered with ice in photo, will be let out when work^is completed on "the gates, and then permanent filling will begin. Island 
in left foreground wffljie covered when the lake is filled. (Morning Star photo) <g$st/UU J5»» — //-*■ &> & _ 

\« ~" ~~ ' " ' — r p — — ■ — — " " "_'"'" 

New Rock Cut Lake Dam Tested 

While Crews Work Downstream 

Water is backing up behind the! 
$366,000 Rock Gut Lake dam, but! 
it will have to be let out again 
and permanent filling probably 
won't begin until ..spring. ' jj 

Workmen closed gates in the) 
bottom of the dam last weekend. | 
Water is currently about 8 to 9! 
feet deep at the dam, but will be 
let out so the upstream side of 
the dam can be "rip-rapped" in 
the spring, when quarry stone is 
again available. tA-Ji—fao i 

Reason for closing off the wa- 
ter now is. to permit construction 
of an "outflow structure" on the 
downstream side of the base of 
ihe dam where water j) ou rs 
through the gates. S$tb%^ ! 

When that work is completed 
and the upstream side of the huge 
earthen dam is rip-rapped with 

ifoneto prevent erosion, the gates 
will be- closed permanently. 
! While original plans were to be-: 
gin backing -up permanent water 
this, fall theJjState Department _ot 
Conservation did not plan any 
stocking of fish until spring. That 
is still the plan. . 

Ray Null, foreman for the Ar-i 
cole Midwest Co., Evanston, gen- 
eral contractors, reported the 
earthen dam has been completed.' 
It contains 107,000 yards of earth' 
and will back up the waters to a< 
maximum depth of 36 feet. " "' 3? 

Null said workmen Wednesday,' 
completed walls of the spillway in; 
the center of the earthen dam, and 
are continuing to J»ur concrete 
flooring for the spillway. That is 
not expected to be completed un- 
til spring. ' ■' •"' : .- 

When the lake is filled, the wa- 

ter will flow over the top of the' 
spillway, and the gates in the 
base of the dam will be closed, 
except for emergency use. 

The conservation lake area be- 
ing developed by the state extends 
over a 600-acre area. The lake 
lies adjacent to Rock Cut Forest 
Preserve, north of Harlem Road. 

Construction under way now 
contrasts sharply with the long 
years of delay involved in getting 
the project moving. First efforts 
for the project began in 1957. 
There followed a series of condem'- 
nation actions to obtain property 
for the lake before construction 
I began this year. - • ^ 

First stocking of fish in the lake; 
is scheduled for next spring, when 
the State Conservation Department 
plans to supply breeder-size small- 
mouth bass and bluegills. 




Rock Cut Lake \ 
Qpen for Fishing 

State Conservation Depart- 
ment officials said , Saturday' 
they saw "nothing wrong or un- 
usual" about allowing fishing at ! 
' Rock Cut Lake ahead of the 
lake's scheduled grand opening' 
Sept. S.Sf&L>&~- ft~C>£\ 

"In fact." said a department': 
spokesman, "it's better not toj 
have a big opening with every- " 
| body swarming onto the lake 
at once. It has been known to; 
spoil fishing where big crowds 
come all at once." * 

The department's comments 
followed criticism by local 
sportsmen that the public either 
should have been notified that 
the fishing ban was lifted or 
else officials should have waited 
until the new state parks' offi- 
cial opening. 

The lake was quietlv opened „ „,, „. „ „ , 

ToTisTiing, "with no~adva~nee no- »' Wf* "**° Kerner announces that the name of the states^ newest park is Rock tut 
tice a week '• h Wednesday in dedication ceremonies at the park. In the background is Pierce Lake. Both 

' ™' ' jnames were chosen by a special committee, of 15. but .the choices were kept secret until the 

Members of the Sportsmen's | governor's dedication. (Regi ster-RepubGc staff photo) ~ T'T-" 

Club, which met at the lake Sat-[ jRocratForest Preserve. to^Con^ lS^M who; 
urday morning with State Rep^ed in its area is a 162-acre man-:io a ve the invocation. 
William Pierce, also criticized^ J 033 ^ lake which was named in * 
what they called lack of super- ^ onor of ReP- W^am Pierce, D- 

vision at the new, man - made, 

"There is only one man to . 
supervise the area, and he has 

■Rockford, who proposed creating:; 
the park and lake seven years j! 
ago. j! 

Kerner, in his dedication, 
called <Rock Cut Park "a splen- 

no boat," said Ray Harrmon. „ j did asset to this heavily popu- 
"We object to the dangerous sit- j lated region. :".. of Northern Dli- 
uation." | nois." - 

Department spokesman said 
park custodian Jasper Giacone 
has far too much work to do to 
spend time patroling the lake. 
He added, however, that more 
help will be added when funds 
are available. 

Park 9 s 


About 700 acres of Illinois wood-, 
land and meadows were given the' 
name Rock Cut State Park] 
Wednesday. rf% f-g_£?^ 

Gov. Otto Kerner, one of about 
500 persons attending the dedica- 
tion of the stage's -newest park,, 
disclosed the name in ceremonies" 
held during the autumn-like after- 
noon. ■'"'..''■-. V^^'l •'" "'-■ 

• ? ,^be park is just- east" of ,t h e 

Kerner said Rock Cut is part of 
a key plan b y- the state to attract I 
more tourists as well as to "as- 
sure all Illinoisians permanent ac- 
cess to their outdoor heritage 

With Kerner were many digni 

State Director of Conservation 1 
William T. Lodge was unable to ! 
attend the dedication because of 
an infected tooth. He was rep- 
resented by Martin E. Joyce, i 
the department's bead of law 
enforcement, and William E. ' 
Smith, superintendent of parks 
and memorials. , 
At one time the Rock Cut area 
was part of the. hunting grounds 
of the Pottawatomie Indians, who 
left the region in the early part 
of the 19th century. 

A way-s tation for the original 
• coach run between Chicago and 

taries from the area. They includ- ! Ga lena was located in the v north 
ed: Congressman John B. Ander- 1 scct !° n of ^ e present park later 

son, R-Rockford; State Senator. 
Robert Canfield, R-Rockford; Rep. 
Bertil Rosander, R-Rockford; Rep. 
Pierce, chairman of the dedica- 
tion; Rep. Harold Widmer, R-: 
Freeport; and Winnebago County; 
Board Chairman Owen Pollard. 

Sitting on the speakers platform 
were Rockford Mayor Benjamin; 
T. Schleicher; Mayor Daniel Tim- j 

in tftat century. 

First land acquisition by the! 
state was proposed by Rep. Pierce! 
and passed by the 1955 General; 
Assembly. Pierce's legislation pro- 
vided for the Winnebago County 
Forest Preserve District to trade 
part of *its preserve to the state 
in exchange lor what is now the 
county's Four Lake Preserve, a 

mis, Loves Park; Mayor Joe SheI-i fo ™ er state t lsh k atch€r £ , j 
ly, Freeport; Mayor Lester Cun-|XS pr^ntjacdities in theoark 
ningham, Belvidere; former State Tr^Iudeamacre Boy Scout camp- 
Rep. David Hunter, Rockford; Win- '*>& *& lar g e P lcnic areas - W 
nebago County Sheriff Iver W. camping and a lake stocked with 
Johnson; Democratic County bass, ;blue .gill and walleye. Ker- 
Chairman Robert McGaw; Fran- ner said-during^his visit that the 
cis Valentine, chairman of-iheH ate ak «' P^ to add c" 31 ^ 1 
park and lake name commt- r # tfi &; m "%'" htfe - ^',1' 

tee; and Rev. R. H. La'wrenz of '-'No sjvimming will be permitted,] 
S^js^ 5 **^" ifeut hoats witti less than a horse-: 
pbwerjenjmjjis are allowed. Shel-j 
ter.Jiousfi$^i|!e x p.lanned. "* 



DEDICATION — Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner de- beneath the oak trees of Rock Cut State Park 
livers dedication address Wednesday afternoon with Pierce Lake in the background. * \ 

Facilities, Equipment 
To Rock Cut State Park 

Workmen are just about fin 
ished transforming new Rock Cut 
State Park's 688 acres into an 
equipped playground for an inva- 
sion of campers, picnickers, an- 
glers and boaters next spring. 

Only a 150-foot long, $32,300j 
bridge over the dam spillway re-' 
mains uncompleted^. Ready are 
picnic tables,' new wellsT re~sl 
rooms, direction signs, a road net- 
work and several parking areas. 
The bridge abutments and two 
piers< are. finished but workmen 
must wait untd after Jan. 1 for 
planking. With good weather the 
bridge can be finished in two 
, weeks Roger Marshallsav. Belvi- 
tdere Construction Co., project -su- 
pervisor, estimated. 

The two - way, 22 - foot wide 
bridge will carry auto traffic in. 
and out of the camping grounds 
and other facilities on the north 
side of Pierce Lake, a 185-acre 
body of water in the state park. 
There are two camping sites 
with parking facilities, and an ad-" 
ditipnal four parking lots on the 
nmth., side of the , lake. 
gMP ■■camping' areas . are 
0S&!Rd&ffk vfMcnis tables,. rest 
.r^ops and* water pumps. 

Two large picnic grounds, one 
en the west side of the lake and 
another on the south side, also 
are furnished, with picnic tables 
and rest rooms. There is also a 
pavilion in the picnic area_ west 
of the lake.<tft^ }2.~2.>~> 2. 

The south shore of the lake also 
his a boat launch area, and three 
parking lots. 

Bots on the lake are limited to 
outboard ^motors of no more than 
5% 'horsepower. 

The lake, -stocked with bass, 
walleyes and bullheads, has at- 
tracted manv fishermen. 





Lake will 
be back I 

fceffer than ever 

of the park to be Interstate-90 on 'wisely and carefully for more 

the east. Harlem Road on the ^recreational site developments," 

south, Illinois 173 on the north, iOgilvie said. "I am informed H- 

iand Forest Hills Road on the linois is behind most states with 

iwest. an average of only eight acres 

1 Excluding the present park's of public land in use for recrea- 

;acreage, the remaining land is tional purposes for each 1,000 

approximately 1,700 acres. residents.The national average' 
Jay Hart, a Rockford realtor, j s 34 acres." 

owns about 450 acres of this par- state Sen. Bertil T. Rosander 

eel of land and he confirmed. R-Rockford, said the massiv* 

Uhat the state has been negotiat- expansion of Rock Cut woulL— ~ 

ling with him for purchase of the I pro vide a "park of reasonable 

lland. - size, and; scqpe to serve grown- 

i Clyde Anderson, owner of 100 ingltietrttpolftatf areas in North- 

jacres directly west of the park ; ern Illinois." 

ireportedly also has been con-T 

jtacted by the state. 


I Other landowners said they! 

i had received no word from the' 1 : 

One 140-acre parcel of land 

owned Dy David Hurlbert, west 

of the park, has also been con- 

j sidered a possibility for a land- 

j fill site. Both city and county of- 
ficials have viewed the land. 

> The park's original size was 

j 708 acres in 1964. In 1968 with a 
federal matching grant the state 

j purchased an additional 460 
acres. . -:.-■■•,.- 


I Boundaries of the Shabbona I 

Tark will be Preserve Road on 

j the north, Shabbona Grove Road 

ion the south, the Shabbona- 
"1 : Blacktop Road on the west, and 

j the University Road and a spur 

] of the Chicago and North West- 
Jem Railroad on the east. I e 

1 Landowners in this area, 5* 

! many of them farmers, have.ob- 1 F 

Ejected to the prospect of selling j 

■ their land to the state for use as ' 

! a park. 

• Legislation for the park was 

, introduced by State Sen. Dennis 
J. Collins, R-DeKalb in 1967.; 

' Proponents of the park argued 1 

i that it would be an economic 

! boost to the community by 

; creating recreation business. 

; Those who object claim the 
area's economy will be hurt by 
taking the land off tax rolls. 

Shabbona was selected by the. 
conservation department after a 
feasibility study of seven sites 
was made, according to depart- 
ment director Dan Malkovich. 

1 Funds for the two parks will 
come from an appropriation and 
re-appropriation of $25,550,000 
made to the Department of Con- 
servation by the general assem- 
bly in its spring session. 
"The money will be spent 




take at low level . . • 

Above, Pierce Lake is shown from the west 
end looking east. The lake level is down ap- 
proximately 20 feet Below, two fishermen 
cross a dry bridge to the folly exposed is- 
land, emphasizing the depth of the draw down. 
In the bottom photo, the shallow east end of 

the lake is nothing bat mad flat and creek 
channels. Fisheries biologist Greg Tichacek 
hopes to build a northern pike spawning area 
in the area at the lower left (Staff photos by 
Donald Holt and Joe Saloka) 

Five truckloads of cans, bro- 
ken glass and assorted litter 
have been removed from the t 
•mud and limestone bottom of 
Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State 
Park, 10 miles northeast of j 
Rockford. i 

The bolts holding the creaking 
timber supports under the 
bridge crossing the spillway will ; 
be tightened. Concrete improve- { 
ments will be made on the boat, 
launching ramp near the con- 
cession stand on the south side I 

of the lake. The large bass, wall 
eyes and northerns have been 
removed and all other fish killed 
with Rotenone. 

All the improvements, and 
more to come, have been done 
because the valve controlling 
the level of the 162.2-acre lake 

Pierce Lake, one of the most 
popular bodies of water in 
Northern Illinois, is nearly dry. 
What started as a project to low- 
er the lake 12 feet to force 
stunted panfish into open water 

where their numbers would be 
reduced by other game fish has 
I turned into a complete rehabili- 
j tation program. Instead of a 12- 
foot drop, the lake is down al- 
most 20 feet. 

The valve wouldn't close com- 
, pletely after the original draw 
down point was reached. In or- 
der to repair the valve, more 
water had to be released. The 
water remaining wasn't enough 
to ensure the fish would live 
through the winter, so a decision 
was reached to give the lake a 

:■: - •? 



Pierce Lake yields lunkers 

Dave Radtke of Rockford displays 
the northerns he caught in Pierce 

Lake at Rock Cut State Park. 
Hutcherson photo) 



Autitanl SoorM Editor 

Dave Radtke of Rockford believes 
you don't have to travel great distances 
to the north or south to catch big fish. 

Sometimes, you can catch them 
within a few miles of home — right in 
your own backyard. 

To prove the point, Radtke hauled a 
pair of good-sized northerns through the 
ice of Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State 
Park near Rockford. 

One northern weighed 8% pounds and 
was 29 inches long. The other weighed 
AVz pounds and was 25 inches long. 

Both were "meaty" fish — much 
heftier than the typical "snake" profile 
of northerns, ft St «u £.-9 -&\ 

And they reinforce what many local 
fishermen believe about Pierce Lake — 
that it is becoming a first-rate northern 
fishery. Last fall, another angler re- 
portedly took a 15-pound northern out of 
the 160-acre-plus lake. 

"I think it's great you can catch fish 
like that out of Pierce Lake," said 
Radtke. "A lot of guys I fish with bad- 
mouth it. Some of them say they would 
rather not fish than fish there. They'd 
rather go up north or someplace. 

"That's okay, but you can't always do 
that every week. So it's nice we have a 
place like Pierce Lake and it has big 
fish in it. 

"I'll tell you, though, what would 
have been my biggest one got away. The 
hole in the ice wasn't big enough to get 
him through and he got away from me. 
"I can't tell for sure how big he was, 
but I think he would have been bigger 
than the 8% -pounder. He was really 
nice, I could tell that." 

Radtke said there were a lot of fish- 
ermen on the ice Friday, but he ap- 
peared to be the only one catching fish. 
And after he caught the first fish, he 
drew a crowd. 

"A couple of guys had their holes 
close to where I was fishing and they 
were using live minnows, but they 
weren't getting any fish," said Radtke. 
"It's no big secret. I was using big 
smelt on big Swedish hooks with a 
regular tip-up pole. 

"I was fishing in about 12 to 14 feet of 
water and had the bait about four foot 
off the bottom. I had to go through about 
15 inches of ice to get water. 

"Probably the key thing was the Swe- 
dish hooks. They're very effective." 

Radtke, 28, said he fished from about 
11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

"I'm not one of those guys who likes 
to go icesfishing at the crack of dawn," 
he said. "I like to see if it's going to 
warm up a little." 

And then go a few miles from home to 
get big gamefish. 





Two deer taken 

at incident-free hunt 

. L 

Steve Gorman of Rockton said he passed 
on a shot at a good-sized eight-point buck 
because he wasn't certain of the shot. 

Minutes later, he got a second chance 
which he took. It was a different, smaller 
deer, but he said he was a lot more certain of 
the shot — from a portable tree stand about 
20 yards away. <"-«toz^ // - <?, -Jr9 -/£,.' 

One shot dropped the four-point buck and j 
Gorman had one of the two deer taken 
during yesterday's incident-free opening day 
of the second bow-and-arrow deer hunt in 
Rock Cut State Park, near Rockford. A full 
quota of 75 archers hunted. One hundred- 
more were turned away and 404 deer were 

The latter tigure is misleading because 
the same deer could have been seen by 
different hunters. 

Illinois Department of Conservation po- 
lice said they didn't issue any tickets to 
hunters, and no problems with anti-hunting 
individuals or groups arose at the park's 
three accesses. Four conservation police 
officers were in and around the park during 
the pre-dawn to 10 aun. hunt. 

Inside the park, hunters went about their 
business in an orderly fashion, said state 
conservation officials. For their part, hunt- 
ers who were out on opening day last year 
and yesterday, said things went smoothly. 

"It seemed a lot better this year," said 
Greg Dibble of Roscoe, one of the 73 
unsuccessful opening-day hunters. "I think 

a year of experience probably helped every- 
body. Last year, it seemed like everybody 
hunted three or four areas, but this year I 
felt like the Lone Ranger out there. There 
was no one around me all morning." 

Opening day 1988 produced three deer 
— two bucks and a doe. A third deer also 
was removed from the park yesterday. But it 
was classified as a road kill, apparently 
struck outside the park before the hunt 

Joe Marley, 25, of Woodridge. was the 
other hunter to get an opening-day buck, 
bagging a husky nine-pointer with a field- 
dressed weight of 172 pounds on a scale. 
Live weight would have been about 220 

Marley, who hunted with his brother. 
Mike, and their uncle. Ken Marley of 
McMurray, Pa., also felled his deer with one 
shot from about 10 yards away. 

Gorman. 29, who hunted with his brother, 
Larry, and a friend, Carl Baney. said he 
didn't shoot at the first deer he saw because 
"it was just getting light and I just got up in 
mv tree stand." 

Brja burl' The Register Slaf 

Steve Gormar of Rockton looks over his 
deer which ne shoi yesterday morning at 
Rock Cui State Park. Gorman shot the 
four-poim Due- ^co* a -ree stand 


New lake finished at Rock Cut 

A new 45-acre lake and a swim- 
ming beach have been completed at 
Rock Cut State Park, major steps in 
a plan that will eventually include a 
$13 million hotel complex. 

"Most of our work is done now, 
but there are still some things left to 
be done, like some work on the 
back side of the dam," said Jeff 
Carr, site superintendent of the park. 
Recent improvements include 
expanded parking lots, road rea- 
lignments and a repaved and ex- 
panded concession area and boat 
launch. J^-0C //-/-$"%3 

A major accomplishment is the 
completion of a road which crosses 
the 1-90 toll road to connect the 
older section of the park to the new 
Olson annex project on the east side 
of the the tollway. 

The eastern section is comprised 
of 300 acres which the state pur- 
chased at a discounted price from 
Roland Olson over two years ago. It 
is this new section which houses 
the new lake and beach and will 
house a new hotel complex. 

In May, the state Department of 
Conservation offered the Chicago 
developing firm of Seymour, Logan 
and Associates the right to lease the 
land and develop the resort 

Carr said the firm is now negotiat- 
ing with sanitary district officials in 
Loves Park, to arrive at sewer and 
water agreements. Park officials 
expect building to commence soon 
after the agreement is reached, "if 
not this winter, then certainly next 
spring" said Carr. 
Beginning today, winter park rules 
go into effect, including hours of 

10:30 a.m. to sunset Bow and 
arrow hunting from sunrise to 10 
a.m. will be allowed through Dec. 
3 1 by special permit. 

All camping facilities including 
the Willow Creek section of the 
park are closed for the winter as are 
all equestrian trails and camping, 
Carr said. 

In addition, the boat docks and 
handicapped accessible fishing peer 
have been removed from the water. 
The concession stand will be 
closed until there is an adequate 
snowfall for winter recreation. 
Information about the concession 

stand may be obtained by calling 

In September, the park opened a 
1 26-space camping addition, bring- 
ing the number of total spaces to 

The new site is part of the Build 
Illinoisprogram, which recognized 
Rock Cut State Park as one of the 
states busiest, averaging 1.5 mil- 
lion visitors each year. 

The new lake was built by clear- 
ing a valley and channeling water 
from Willow Creek, which also 
serves as the water source for Pierce 

Daniel Stewart, site assistant supervisor attendent, checks on tb 
valves fillling the new lake. ■< -%%'v- ■ '•'- ■ -\ v - (Allen photo 


Average depth of ~ the lake will 
be 14 to 15 feet, although the max- 
imum depfii will be 36 feet. Wa- 
ters will extend from the dam into 
a valley for almost a mile reach- 
ing near the Northwest Tollwayto 
the east 

Long-range plans call for instal- 
lation of a complete recreation 
area. Projects will include a road 
around the lake, picnic areas, 
boating and docking facilities and 
other recreational developments 



The Pathway of Rockford, Vicinity and Beyond. 


Roger A. Bier 

December 3, 2000 

Rock Valley College 


Bier - 1 

Roger Bier 
English 101 
Archival Essay 
28 November 2000 

The Pathway of Rockford, Vicinity and Beyond. 

The Pathway has been described as Rockford' s "front porch". This place has special 
meanings to everyone. It is Rockford's melting pot. There is a greater diversity of ages, interests, 
lifestyles, ethnicities of people socializing, exercising, and working than probably anywhere else 
in Rockford. The Pathway is a Rockford treasure and will be for years to come. 

The Pathway at the YMCA is easily found. Just get onto North Second Street heading 
south. There are a number of parking lots along the left side while traveling south. If traveling 
north take the Y Boulevard intersection to find parking. There are other places to get on the 
Pathway at Davis Park, Sinnissippi Park, Shorewood, Martin Park, Sportscore, and Machesney 
Park Mall. These places have plenty of parking and clearly marked signs to the path. 

The Sinnissippi Park and riverfront was the first park acquired by the RPD (Rockford 
Park District) in 1909. The area was originally known as Rood Woods (Barrie) The founding 
Park District Commissioners purchased the park personally with the aid of three Rockford banks 
for $47,500 (Barrie), as the land was valuable and would have been bought by real estate 
developers for subdivision. The park was named Sinnissippi, to keep alive the beautiful Indian 
name for the Rock River, meaning, "clear flowing. 

Bier - 2 

The Roper Plan was developed in 1918 as the first major plan for the RPD (Barrie). This 
was part of the "city beautiful" planning movement at the turn of the century. The Roper Plan 
was in the tradition of other great city plans of the era, including the Burnham Plan prepared a 
decade earlier for the Chicago area and the New York Plan. The Roper Plan encompassed some 
features similar to the Burnham Plan—a riverfront plan similar in some ways to the Chicago 
lakefront. Many of the Roper Plan's recommendations including greenway development along 
streams and along the Rock River remain valid recommendations 81 years later. 

The RPD purchased five blocks of riverfront land on the east bank of the Rock River for 
$7,400 on June 6, 1 966, as the result of a track-moving program by the Chicago and 
Northwestern Railway (Parks). The tracks were moved to the west in the area of land between Y 
Boulevard and Auburn Street, a move forced in connection with the planned widening of North 
Second Street. According to a March 1968, article in the Rockford Register Republican 
"Bikeway Proposed For Rockford Riders," the proposal called for the establishment of a 15-mile 
Rockford bikeway, which would tie in with a proposed Winnebago County bikeway. This 
combination of marked bicycle routes would connect with the existing Wisconsin Bikeway, 
creating the first interstate bikeway system in the United States. But nothing came of the 

In the early 1970s, the RPD started buying property along the north side of Auburn Street 
Bridge along the river, for fear of business or commercial development. On August 18, 1973 in 
The Rockford Post an article titled "'Someone' Listening to Cyclists," there was a formation of 
the Bicentennial Bike Committee which included Rockford Park commissioner Jo Anne Baker, 
four Park District representatives, as well as representatives from the Rockford City Council, the 
City-County Planning Commission, the city of Loves Park, and The Rock Valley Metropolitan 

Bier - 3 

Council. The "bicycle" committee's main goal was to organize riding areas in time for the 
bicentennial celebration, to enlisting the cooperation of city, township, county and state officials, 
plus private organizations such as railroads, which own right-of-way areas. Preliminary bike 
routes included one running from Sinnissippi Park to Rock Cut State Park, following the 
Chicago and Northwestern Railroad track part of the way. 

"Riverfront Stroll Possible" stated an article headline in Rockford Register 1-3-74. The 
article states that the RPD would seek a grant of $50,000 from the National Endowment of the 
Arts and Humanities to study the bikeway and walkways from all focal points of Rockford. 

While at a National Park and Recreation Conference in 1975, key Park District staff, 
including Webbs Norman, JoAnne Baker and others rented bikes and traveled on a new 
riverfront path toward Mount Vernon along the Potomac River. This proved to be a very 
inspiring ride and the group realized that the Sinnissippi riverfront held great promise for the 
development of a bike path which would connect not only Sinnissippi Park but others along the 
Rock River. Webbs Norman, JoAnne Baker and others vowed to make it work in Rockford 

Prepared for the RPD by landscape architect, Keith Hoaglund, "The Hoaglund Plan" 
started in 1975 and was in response to the 150 th anniversary of Rockford and the 75 th anniversary 
of the Rockford Park District (Barrie). One of the factors of the plan was the growing trend for 
riding bikes, jogging and the increased interest on the part of the YMCA for connecting their 
facilities at the YMCA to the riverfront walkway, which existed further to the north on the 
Sinnissippi riverfront. 

Bier - 4 

The construction of a bridge at Spring Creek and along the proposed path started in mid 
July 1975. Rockford Jaycees funded the cost of the bridge; the organization raised more than 
$3,500, thus connecting the northern section of the project with the southern half ("A New"). 

One of the first issues faced by the RPD was actually obtaining the land needed for the 
lengthy project. Ed McCanna and two others property owners are tested the legality of the law of 
eminent domain in a land hassle with the RPD. Mr. McCanna and two others were offered fair 
market value for their riverfront property, which ranged from $1 5,000 to $1 8,900. The problem 
was resolved and they sold their property (Lucas "Bike"). 

Construction started on the underpass next to the Rock River under the Riverside 
Boulevard Bridge on May 1976. The cost was split between the RPD and Loves Park Park 
District ("Bike Path To"). On Halloween the same year, Keith Hoaglund, Webbs Norman, 
Jo Anne Baker and others walked through their vision of what they had planned for the future of 
the riverfront ("Board"). 

The Park Board approved bids for the River Bike Path on 4/27/77. The cost would total 
more than $100,000. The construction of the bike path was by Rockford Black Top Construction 
Company and they provided the surfacing for the path. Wilson Electric Company provided some 
lighting and underground wiring, which allowed additional lighting for later. The commissioners 
also approved a resolution to seek another $22,500 of federal money, which would be matched 
by a Park District contribution, to finance the construction of more facilities along the proposed 
path ("Park Board"). 

Residents along the Loves Park section opposed the route of the bike path in April of 
1977 ("Bike Path Opposed"). They wanted the path rerouted one block north of the proposed 
entrance to Martin Park. They claimed it would save taxpayers several thousands of dollars. The 

Bier - 5 

residents of the area were opposed to the interruption of their privacy, and added that the Park 
District was being careless by forcing young children onto the bike path using city streets. The 
residents submitted a petition with 100 signatures of residents opposed to the plan. In May a 
public hearing was held. In June a compromise was agreed to, that involved widening the 
sidewalk to the curb on East Drive down to Shorewood Park for use as a bike path, and to 
eliminate parking on the west side of the street ("Bike Path Compromise"). 

"Bike Trial is Complete - Almost" reads the Register Star . It been several years in the 
planning and production, but the last stretches of asphalt were being laid along the path in July 
1977. The original path started with the dead end at Madison Street behind the YMCA and with 
a couple stretches of city streets ending up on the north side of Riverside Boulevard Bridge with 
over three miles of pathways. 

The Pathway was dedicated in July of 1977, a dream of the Rockford Park District that 
became a reality. In that same year they installed lighting along the path. These lights turned on 
at dusk and turned off at 10:30 p.m. This has allowed visitors more peace of mind when walking 
at night ("Bike Path Lighted"). 

The bike path along the Rock River has endured countless changes, but has remained the 
same throughout the last 25 years. As the growth continued in 1978, the construction of the 
bridge at the lagoon at Martin Park started. In October of 1979 there was a dedication ceremony 
at the Riverview Icehouse during which Rockford Park Commissioner JoAnne Baker was the 
speaker to dedicate the Pathway from the Icehouse to Loves Park (Barrie). 

Rockford Park District leased land from the YMCA pathway extending from Sinnissippi 
Park to the Whitman Street Bridge in 1983. This made the Park District responsible for the 

Bier - 6 

upkeep of the path along the Rock River, which extended from Riverview Icehouse to Loves 
Park extension at Illinois Street, close to 2.5 miles long (Barrie). 

This writer and brother were in the fitness craze of the late 80's, and spent numerous days 
and nights at the bike path running along the river. As this writer and brother were talking about 
those times for this interview he said, "That's when we meet our goal one Sunday morning of 
running from Whitman Street Bridge to Riverside Bridge and back over 6 miles, was one of best 
times we had together as brother" (Bier, Rick). It felt so good for this writer to set a goal and 
accomplish it. This will never be forgotten, for this accomplishment will never be able to happen 
again. Since then, this writer's bothers has become a quadriplegic and will never likely be able to 
run like that again. 

The Rockmen Guardians were added in 1988 (Barrie). These men are a great inspiration 
for this writer's story told to my nephew and other's kids who were interested in the Rockmen. 
This writer's nephew still remembers the story as it goes something like this: the Rockmen were 
living in the river and one day they had to defend the river and as they came upon land they froze 
something like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Ever since they have been guarding the river. 
He also remembers the time we went to feed the ducks and geese along the path and this writer 
will never forget the look on his face as he was enjoying this time in his young life. 

The reconstruction of the path in 1989 consisted of widening it from 6 to 10 feet, 
rerouting the path to the west side of the Sea Scout building, reconstruction of the path under the 
Auburn Street Bridge, and with new bridges at Spring Creek, Shorewood, and Martin Park. Later 
that year the completion of the pedestrian bridge under Jefferson Street, linked up the west side 
path along the Rock River with the east side path. The reconstruction of the Pathway from 
YMC A to Loves Park was $250,000 (Barrie). 

Bier - 7 

The Davis Park section of the Pathway was started in 1993. This linked Davis Park up to 
the existing path at East State Street. Also that year, construction started on the extension from 
the west side of the Riverside Bridge to Sportscore Park. At the YMCA, the resident hall that had 
been vacant since 1991 was demolished in early 1993. This area was turned into sand volleyball, 
basketball courts, additional parking and restrooms (Barrie). 

The Park District kept expanding the bike path: Loves Park and Machesney Park got into 
it with an extension from Sportscore Park across Harlem Street Bridge ending up at Burger King 
by the Machesney Park Mall. Today the path is still going through changes with a walking path 
over the Whitman Street Bridge, and the widening of the Riverside Bridge to accommodate more 
people crossing that bridge to link up to the Sportscore extension. Other changes along the 
Sinnissippi Park section were the addition of banners that had picture and brief history of 
important people that influenced Rockford. 

Recapping the Rock River Recreation Path It was built as the bicentennial community 
project in 1976, this is the "Grand Daddy" of the path system in Rockford and vicinity. People 
can begin their trek in downtown Rockford at Davis Park, cross the State Street Bridge (or the 
Jefferson Street Pedestrian Bridge adjacent to the Library) and continue north on Madison Street. 
The path winds behind the YMCA, through Sinnissippi Gardens, past the Symbol, to meander 
through Shorewood and Martin Parks. It crosses over the Riverside Boulevard Bridge, and 
continues north and through to the Sportscore. This walk is a total of seven miles! Now, turn 
around for the return trip to where the car is parked, or explore the Sportscore on the 3/4 mile 
paved path, then go further north .62 of a mile to Harlem Road and the Frank Bauer Toll Bridge 
(no toll required if on the path), and into Machesney Park, where the path continues north on 
Victory Lane to Machesney Road. The 2.2-mile path ends at the Burger King on North Second 

Bier - 8 

Street, which covers over 10.5 miles of Pathway Parking is available at any of the parks or at 
Machesney Park Mall. 

In the near future, Rockford residents and visitors will be able to walk along the pathway 
throughout this city, as the expansion continues throughout the city and surrounding 
communities Rockford' s Pathway will hook up with The Grand Illinois Trail. As seen below. 

The Grand Illinois Trail 

rue proposed network of recreauomat pa'.tts iotas* 4 75.7 mffes arid woufeJ' ! 
e»»f»d throughout nw.ttisfp. Ht'iws. 129.2 mtiesof the tra»! exist, fre rest • 
iH [he irai! would b« made up of :inks that are either, in the proposal t>t- ■••<-. 
conceptual slags. Local governments aio resooflsibiefor cowUnatifig,ttie 
dev^apment of (Dfjividugi 9ectiO'ts '::■■"' \ .-.. "' 

Existing trails 

Proposed tor development 

Conceptual planning stage 


Bier - 9 

In Rockford this is the number one place to go to take a walk with friends, family, or 
pets. Enjoy the sites, sounds and smells that are the finest in town. The Pathway is the safest 
place to run, jog or walk ,the people are friendly, and it's centrally located in the heart of 
Rockford. Hope to see you soon at The Path. 

Bier - 10 

i J! *?*£?:£?**?'' ".f^^fi 

•'>■■•; ^WV&'«v$ 



31 -Jit: : ^ y. (-'as; irwi> mm\ «M t J . . $8 

i fMtftttct 

Mike Singletary at the Pathway in Sinnissippi Park (top) 

Mike Singletary greeted by fellow walker at the Pathway in Sinnissippi Park. (Below) 


Early picture of Pathway, (top) 

Father and kids enjoying roller blading at the Pathway, (below) 

Works Cited 

Barrie, Vance. Rockford Park District office archival database. 

Bier, Rick. Personal interview. 10 Nov. 2000. 

Bier, Jacob. Personal interview. 10 Nov. 2000. 

"Bicentennial Bike Route To Be Completed." The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford 

Library. 4-9-75. 
"Bicycle Path Action Waits Court Ruling." Rockford Register Republican . Rockfordiana File. 

Rockford Library. 9-7-77. 
"Bike Path Alight With State Funds." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford 

Library. 8-12-77. 
"Bike Path Compromise Emerges." The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

"Bike Path Lighted." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 1 1-9-77. 
"Bike Path Opposed By Area Residents." The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

"Bike Path To Begin." The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 5-26-76. 
"Bike Trail is Completed - Almost." The Register Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

"Bikeway Proposed For Rockford Riders." Rockford Register Republican . Rockfordiana File. 

Rockford Library. 3-1 8-68. 
"Board Views River Plans" Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

Dieter, Mark. "Bike Trail Leaves Many Unhappy." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana File. 

Rockford Library. 6-24-77. 

Lucas, Eileen. "Bids Reviewed On Riverfront Path" Rockford Register Republican . Rockfordiana 

File. Rockford Library. 4-26-77. 
Lucas, Eileen. "Bike Trail Issue May Go To Court." Rockford Register Republican . Rockfordiana 

File. Rockford Library. 11-6-75. 
"A New Beauty Spot." Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 7-26-75 
"Paths: A Whole New System." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

"Park Board Approves Bids For River Bike Path." The Rockford Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford 

Library. 4-27-77. 
"Park District Backs Bicyclists." The Rockford Star . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 4-4-74. 
"Park District Buys Land Along River." Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 6-16-66 
"Parks Get River Rail Site." Rockford Graphic Press . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 4-7-66. 
"Public Hearing On Bicycle Path To Be Held " The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford 

Library. 5-11-77. 
" 'Someone' Listening To Cyclists." The Rockford Post . Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 

Webster, Emest. "Loves Park Residents Want Bike Path Rerouted." Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockfordiana File. Rockford Library. 5-10-77. 

The Beginning of Care 
Dawn Dandridge 
29 November 2000 
Rock Valley College 





Dawn Dandridge Dandridge-1 

English 101 NDF2 
29, November 2000 

The Beginning of Care 

1 883 was a tragic year. With no main hospital in the Rockford area, it was hard for six 
local doctors to save six- year- old Freddie Griffin. Griffin, who was just a child, played quietly 
among railroad tracks near S. Main Street. Eventually, he fell beneath the wheels of a Chicago 

and Iowa switch engine (Monahan," The Growth" 5). The doctors did everything they could 

while deciding whether to amputate young little Griffin's legs. Unfortunately, five hours later, he 

died (Monahan," The Early" 5). After such a tragedy, Rockford came to the decision they 

needed a hospital. Six local doctors, who organized the start of Rockford's first hospital, called 
themselves "The Rockford Hospital Association" (" City Hospital"....). 

There was a lot of work to be done to complete this project. One main concern was 
where the money would come from to get this started. In December 1883, the trustees began 
a fund-raiser and called upon churches to help. Many local churches had "Hospital Sunday", 
which was a practice of one collection annuallly, that went directly towards the hospital. The 
plan was to raise 6,300 doHars to purchase a home on the corner of Chestnut and Court Street. 
This home was a two-story brick home, and belonged to Dr. William Fitch(Monahan," The 

After six months, the money was raised. This home was not very big, but was large 
enough to hold up to ten patients. The hospital opened in1885. Dr. S.A. Austin and Dr.F H. 
Kimball were two of the first surgeons. Dr. R.P. Lane and Dr. D.S. Clark were the first 
consulting physicians (City Hospital"....). The first patient to be admitted in the hospital was a 
lady named Minnie Pearson. Mrs. Pearson was a poor lady, who was married to a local 
factory worker. Her husband's co-workers contributed to the cost of her hospital stay. By the 
end of the year, the hospital had nine patients (Monahan,"The Growth"....5). 

After a year of service to the Rockford community, it was very clear the Fitch house 



could not provide the amount of space it needed for the care of the patients. No one wanted to 
get their hopes up for an expansion, untill the money was in their hands. Fund-raisers began 
for the exspansion. The plan was to add a wing, which would connect the hospital to a 
seperarte building. This building was located just east of the Fitch house, and had three floors 
to it (Monahan," The Growth"... 6). 

With $15,000 dollars to finalize the exspansion David Keyt, an architect from Chicago 
helped build this new wing (Monahan," The early".. .v). This new addition was ready by March 
of 1888. Each floor consisted of many luxuries. The First floor contained doctors offices, and a 
kitchen. This floor is also where the "dead room" was located, which was down a long hall that 
opened into the alley, so bodies could be removed without anyone noticing. On the second 
floor the operating rooms were located. These rooms expanded over time, so better antiseptic 
procedures could be given. There were also a couple of patients rooms nearby. The Third floor 
had ten rooms. Each room contained a dresser, chair, bed and throw rugs. There was no 
carpet. With just a dollar a day for a single room and five dollars a week for a bed in a ward, the 
expansion went well ("The early" 39). 

Of course, as years went on, more room was needed. By 1913, Rockfords census 
jumped up to more than 45,000, and the admissions in the hospital were at 1 ,420 patients 
("Donate Building"). Mr and Mrs Ralph Emerson donated 60,000 dollars permitting an 
expansion. Within time there was a six - story hospital addition, called "Emerson Hall". 
(Monahan/The Growth"...9). 

By 1921 , the hospital opened up a clinic, in the old emergency examing room. This 
clinic had seventeen children, and a week later nineteen mothers brought 


their children in for care. Most of the children were unhealthy. During this time, there was no 
lab. No Rockford hospital had a lab. According to Dr. Davidson, the private laboratory of one 
physician provided all the lab work that needed to be done (Monahan," The Growth".. .22). 

Rockford Hospital did not always remain Rockford Hospital. In the early 1940s there 
was a discussion on a name change of the hospital. Many thought it was a" municipally 
supported institution", rather than the non-profit corporation it actually was. Rockfords 
Hospital's name was changed to Rockford Memorial Hospital in July 1942. (Monahan," The 
Early"....). With that name change, came a big move, called Operation Switch. This move 
cost the community 4,500,000 dollars. ("Rockford is Proud"). This new building was located at 
the 2400 block of Rockton Ave, and contained four floors. Holding 237 beds it was a great 
increase, unlike the 125 beds the old hospital held. John L Brown, hospital administration said " 
The entire moving program will be completed in three days ("Hospital move"..). 

Starting at 7:45 a.m. loading furniture and equipment onto trucks was a job. By 10 a.m 
the movers from the local 325 General Chauffeurs Union had cleared just about everything, 
and began installing equipment into the nurses new quarters ("Van Shuttle"). John L Brown 
made it clear he wanted office equipment moved first. After all the moving was completed, it 
was time to transfer the patients. The patients were transfered by the Pink Ladies, known 
today as candy stripers (Monahan, 'The Growth"... 61). Starting at 7:30 a.m the next morning in 
their own automobiles, each lady made one trip an hour. By noon, a total of seventy-eight 
patients were moved by the ladies and the ambulance (Monahan,The Growth".. ..61 ). 

When Operation Switch was completed, Rockford Memorial Hospital did not expand 
again untill seven years later. The building did not expand, but the number of employees grew, 
and so did opportunities within the hospital. The Social Service Department expanded a great 
deal. It began with just one worker, and ended up with fifty-one referrals from twenty-seven 

; ' 


physicians (Monahan," The Growth".. ..76). By 1983 the hospital had completed a new 
emergency room area, and obstetrics unit. They Received several items of new equipment, 
such as a CT skanner, Carbon Dioxide Laser, Infusaid Pump, and a Cell Saver, which is used 
to recycle blood of trauma and surgical patients. Equipment like this was not available at the 
time Rockford Memorial Hospital was first established ("Hospital Benifits"...). Maxine Scott 
said," It would of been nice if we had stuff like that back then". 

Today Rockford Memorial still stands on the 2400 block of Rockton ave. Instead of 
having only one main doctor, there are over fifty doctors to choose from. There are several 
programs offered today for the employees of Rockford Memorial Hospital, such as Nursing, 
Radiology, Medical Assistant, and even child care for working moms (Scott,personal 
interview). Rockford Memorial Hospital does a lot for their employees. The trustees approved 
offering a financial boost, to help employees purchace homes in the neighborhood. This 
hospital has always helped and offered assistance to their patients and staff ("Hospital 
Workers"...). This hospital is a wonderful place to have in the Rockford area. 

Works Cited 
"City Hospital Organized By Six Physicians". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna Files. 

Rockford Public Library, no date. 
"Donate Building". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna Files. Rockford Public Library, no 

Hurdle, Norma. "Hospital benefit from new equipment". Rockford Register Star. 

Rockfordanna Files. Rockford Public Library, no date. 
"Hospital move plan complete". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 4, June 1954. 
"Hospital plans 2.1 million child care center". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 27, Mar 1991 . 
"Hospital workers can get housing aid". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna Files. Rockford 

Public Library, no date. 
Monahan, James. The early years of Rockford Memorial Hospital. Rockford II: Trustees of 

Rockford Memorial Hospital p. 1983. 
Monahan, James. The Growth of Rockford Memorial Hospital. Rockford II: Trustees of 

Rockford Memorial Hospital p.1985. 
"Rockford Hospital Shows Rapid Growth in 45 years". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna 

Files. Rockford Public Library, no date. 
Scott, Maxine. personal interview. 20 November, 2000. 
"The city Hospital". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna file. Rockford public Library. 1 Jan, 

"Vans Shuttle furnishing to N. Rocton". Rockford Register Star. Rockfordanna files. Rockford 

public Library. 9 July, 1954. 







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Rockford Public Library: 

Controversey to a Landmark 


Bill Leese 

30 November 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Bill Leese Leese-1 

English 101 IND 
30 November 2000 

Rockford Public Library: Controversey to a Landmark 

One of Rockford's most frequently used, and often under appreciated public 
buildings, is the main branch of the public library. Nestled on the Rock River on the 
comer of Wyman and Mulberry Streets, this magnificent three-story structure houses 
some of the best research and informative resources that the city has to offer. 

Rockford's Public Library, began as a vacant lot owned by the Gas and Electric 
Company. This particular spot was also referred to as Water Works Park. This spot was 
decided on after Andrew Carnegie's generous offer on March 6, 1901 in which he offered 
the Library Board $60,000 for a library. The only catch was that the city had to agree to 
provide a building site and a maintenance fund of at least $8,000 a year (Turpoff 26). 

The architectural talents of Bradley and Carpenter of Rockford were given the 
task of designing the literary mansion. Once the plans were completed and approved, the 
job of construction was handed to the contractor firm of W. H. Cook who faced such 
difficult tasks as constructing one of the City's largest roof dome (Rockfordiana file). 

There were loads of other exciting and controversial topics that plastered the front 
pages of the newspapers about a vast variety of items both within the city and throughout 
the country. A few of the main issues included the dispute over whether Rockford should 
celebrate its Semi-Centennial Anniversary, which would come in 

April of 1902. The biggest issue was whether the City should fund a grand festival or 
settle for a simple parade and public social. 

At the same time the country had some interesting issues of its own with the Pan- 
American Fair being organized and scrutinized. The stadium was the largest and most 
beautiful arena ever created for sports in America. It covered a plot of 678 1/2 by 450 1/2 
feet and had a quarter-mile track with a twenty-foot width. The ground arena was large 
enough to house all the events and seated 12,000 people. Many people felt that we were 
spending way too much money on something that was only going to be used for a limited 
time (Rockford Morning Star). 

Meanwhile, across the globe, Russia was in a heated controversy with all the 
major allied countries over the Czar's intent to invade China. Britain was urging the 
United States to join the fight, while the majority of the U.S. wanted to remain neutral 
("Andrew Carnegie , '). 

While all these disputes were brewing, the Rockford Library was well on its way 
to becoming a reality. There was, however, a major controversy in the midst of its 
construction as well. The matter at hand was that once the public became more aware of 
what the building plans called for, the issue of "East verses West'' 1 once again surfaced. 
This was an issue that plagued many of the buildings in the downtown area of the time. 
The residents of the east side of the river were outraged by the thought that they would be 
forced to look at the rear of a building that their taxes would be paying for("Andrew 
Carnigie"). The solution, while not very practical, was to simply make the rear of the 

building mirror the front so that both sides of the river could enjoy the beautiful 

The library was finally completed and opened to the public on November 21, 
1903. The total cost of the building and its furnishings came to a total of just over 70,000 
dollars. It was a grand two-story building with a basement and had both an ornate dome 
atop the roof and matching front and rear faces. 

With its massive marble columns and ornate rotunda sitting atop the two-story 
structure, the Library was certainly something to make both the residents of the city and 
Andrew Carnegie proud. Upon opening its doors in November of 1903, the library had 
86,090 volumes available for home use and 15,856 volumes for reference use in the 
building. It was open from two P.M. until five P.M. everyday except Sundays and 
Holidays. The doors were only closed sixty-three days out of the year and the catalog 
system was based on the Dewey Classification System. This system was created to make 
it easy to find what one needed, it was alphabetized and allowed one to look up his/her 
selection by subject, title, and author. It also was designed to keep books with similar 
information grouped together in the same section of the library (Rockfordiana File). 

Anyone who was at least fifteen years old and a resident of Rockford was able to 
get a library card and check out one book free of charge. This policy soon changed to 
allow a person to get two books, but that required an additional card to turn in for security 
until the items were returned. 

According to the Rockfordiana File at the Rockford Library: 

The building is two stories and basement, in Modem Greek style 
capped by a low dome. On one side are the general reading room 
and the reference room with study adjoining, on the other side is 
the delivery room opening into the stack room. In one end of this 
stack room is the cataloger's room. The librarian's room is 
between this and the main hall. An open shelf room is provided on 
the other side of the delivery room, opening also into the stack, and 
having a study adjoining. There are two opposite entrances to the 
main floor, owing to the fact that the library is on the bank of the 
Rock River which divides the city, and it is desirable to have both 
sides equally attractive. The children's room is in the basement. 
The second floor contains an extension of the stack room, a 
director's room, a room for bound papers, a museum, and a texture 
The building went mostly untouched until 1968 when it received a major 
renovation which involved an addition of a third floor, a new children's area, and the 
elimination of the Greek style columns and dome (Rockfordiana File). On the rear of the 
building a portion of the original was left intact including the concrete wreath which 
bears the year "1902". 

Today as one approaches the building from the front parking lot across the street, 
visitors are greeted by the intriguing mosaic artwork that adorns the outside wall near the 

second story like an art museum. There is the constant sound of passing traffic as 
motorists do their best to navigate through all of downtown's one-way streets. At the 
front entrance are magnificent granite columns, which help support the extruding second 
and third story with all of their large picture windows. There are large characters above 
the four doors that spell out the address: "215 North Wyman Street". 

Upon entering through the breezeway and the second set of doors one finds the 
"Friends of the Library" bookstore located directly to the right. There are any number of 
interesting books and magazines here for as little as a quarter. If, however, the intent is 
just to borrow and not to own, one should proceed up the stairs. Immediately to the right 
is the main internal book drop. Advancing further and passing through the vertical theft 
sensors presents the challenge of deciding which way to go. What is your pleasure? 

If new editions of popular magazines and newspapers are what is desired, or 
maybe even unique artwork and videos, then straight ahead past the circulation desk is 
the destination. One finds inviting tables to sit and read in the peace and quiet which is 
occasionally broken by the sound of soft whispers and the sharp "bing" of the elevators. 

Perhaps the search is for newly-released novels, which are found by making two 
quick left turns after entering the first floor. If there are children to entertain, simply 
proceed straight ahead past the new novel section and into the youth area where all of the 
childhood favorites from such authors as Dr. Seuss and Norman Birdwell are. The sight 
of small children anxiously awaiting their turn to check out with the newest find can be 
quite satisfying. One also finds the children's meeting and activity rooms at the rear of 
this section for special events. 

If the first floor doesn't have what's needed, don't despair, head to the elevator 
and up. The elevator doors at the second floor open to the rows of computers where 
patrons can browse the Internet for sites of interest. The reference desk where almost all 
library questions are answered is also right up front. A short walk to the right leads to the 
periodicals area where the rhythmic clicks of the micro-film machines like some kind of 
foreign music are heard as patrons search relentlessly for the perfect research article. To 
the far left of the elevators is the computer based card catalog where a few strokes of the 
keys can reveal the call number, location, and availability of any desired selection. If the 
computer does not yield an answer, then the faces behind the desks can be very helpful. A 
left from the computers leads to an area of maps, informative books, reading tables and a 
view of the Rock River. The rear windows reveal the sight of dozens of mallard ducks, 
pigeons, and geese walking the shoreline awaiting the generous gift of food from passers 

A walk up a flight of stairs or another trip on the elevator leads to the third and 
final floor. There, one can become lost in the stacks like a mouse in a labyrinth with all 
the fiction and nonfiction they can handle. This floor is also home to the area of CDs and 
videos available for borrowing. To the right of the elevator is the genealogy and local 
history room along with stacks of travel-related material. Entering the local history room, 
guest's noses are filled with the smell of the old paper combined with the cloth and 
leather bindings. 

Once the search and checkout are over, there are two exits. The front by the 
bookstore, or to the left of the checkout desk just past the stairwell and one more left 

through yet another set of vertical theft sensors, and down two flights of stairs leading to 
the rear of the building and the river. Straight ahead the stars and stripes are waving 
friends to come closer. To the left is the exterior book drop, more available parking, a 
granite bench to rest on and a lower view of the Jefferson Street Bridge and 
walkway. Finally, a small walk up the sidewalk to the right brings guests back to the front 
of the building and the parking lot. Bill Leese recalled: 

"I remember being very excited about my first trip to the library with my first grade 
class, where I received my first library card which was light blue paper with my name typed and 
a metal id tag number. Like most kids, I grew to hate the thought of going to the library, since it 
most certainly involved a research paper. I must say now that I am an adult with my newest 
library card which is plastic and includes a digital picture of me and a bar-code id, I have come 
to appreciate the library and what it can offer me all over again". Although the structure went 
from two-stones to three, the rear entrance way has stood the test of time. Today it is easier to 
retrieve information with the use of the computer-based catalog verses the original card catalog 
and a person no longer has to be fifteen years old and limited to two books. Now, as long as one 
can sign his name to his library card, he or she can withdraw as many as twenty-five books at 
one time. All of these add up to what the library has become and how much more valuable it is 
to the community today. 

Although controversy has loomed over this building in the past, and most certainly will 
continue in the future, the fact remains that Andrew Carnegie's generous offer so long ago is still 
being appreciated by thousands of Rockford residents today. 


The Rockford Public Library 
opened November 21, 1903. 

Rear View of the Library (Turpoff26) 


Andrew Carnegie (Turpoff26) 

Front View of the Library (Rowe 28) 


Works Cited 
"Andrew Carnigee Gives a Building. 1 ' Rockford Morning Star . 9 March 1901. 
Leese, Bill. Personal Interview. 29 November 2000. 
The Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public Library, No Date. 
Rowe, Ford F. Rockford Streamlined 1941. 
Turpoff, Glen They, Too, Cast Shadows 1999 Rockford Illinois. Rockford Builders Ass. 

Rockford Speedway: 

A Look at its History 


Wes Symonds 

Rock Valley College 

December 8, 2000 

Wes Symonds Symonds 1 

December 8, 2000 
English 101 

History of the Rockford Speedway 
It is a little known fact, that every time someone walks through the 
gates of the Rockford Speedway, he or she is continuing the legend that has 
grown over the last fifty-two years. Since that very first race that was held 
on May 26 , 1948, race fans and drivers have made history in what once 
was a corn field seven miles from Illinois' second largest city 
( "Speedway...") . 

It all started in 1947. A group of eight Rockford businessmen: Jay 
Hart, Don Gleasman, Herb Davis, Stan Ralston, Gil Mandt, Al Tondi, Jim 
Wagner and Bob Milburn got together and made plans for a race track 
(Deery). It was to be built on 28 acres of the Hart farm that was on the 
corner of State Highway 1 73 and Forest was a cost of $70,000, but as things 
usually go, it went over budget to a total of $100,000 ("Ground... ."). Plans 
were finalized and ground was broken on January 7 lh , 1948 ("Speedway... ,, y 

The track was patterned after a track in Gilmore, California. The size 
of the track, one-quarter mile, was chosen so that all of the spectators would 
have a good view of the track, which was to have a seating capacity of 7,000 
people. The corners of the track were built with a new design called 

Wes Symonds Symonds 2 

December 8, 2000 
English 101 

"parabolic" corners ("Speedway..."). These corners were said to even out 
the competition by giving the car in the upper lane the same radius in the 
corner as the car in the lower lane. This type of corner over the years has 
proven not to be able to stand up to that claim as the advancement in 
technology has surpassed that of 1948. 

Once the track was completed, it was a part of a circuit that allowed 
drivers to race seven nights a week. They started out at Indianapolis Indiana, 
then go to Anderson, Indiana, St. Louis, Missouri, Dowagiac, Michigan, 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockford and then finish up at the track in Chicago 

The track was to open May 19 th , 1948, but weather delays caused the 
surface of the track not to be laid down in time (Rockfordiana). So the date 
was pushed back to the 26 th of May. The fields of first races of 1948 were 
made up of cars called midgets. These were small open-wheeled cars that 
used four and six-cylinder engines to power them. John McDowell of Los 
Angeles, California, won the first race (Moc). The starting field included 
some future Hall of Fame drivers such as Duane Cater, Johnnie Parsons and 
Sam Hanks (Moc). 

Wes Symonds Symonds 3 

December 8, 2000 
English 101 

But all was not well with the track on opening night. The track's 
surface did not cure well enough and was sticking to the tires of the cars as 
they raced around the track. It was decided to hold the opening night's races 
and then re-surface the track. Track engineers from the Chicago and 
Indianapolis racetracks were brought in to help diagnose the problem and to 
come up with a cure. The conclusions of the engineers were to use the same 
type of surface mixture that was used on Indianapolis' racetrack. This 
proved to be an effective cure because they did not have any more problems 
with the track surface other than maintaining it after a Midwest winter 
("Ground is Broken"). 

Later in the summer of 1948, another famous name in auto racing, 
Andy Granatelli, came to town with the Hurricane Hot Rod Association stars 
and cars. The owners took notice of how well the "hot rods'' were received 
by the fans. These cars were stripped down versions of the everyday family 
car. The fenders and bumpers were removed to give them an open-wheel 
look with a recognizable name for the cars such as Chevy and Ford. When 
these cars were permanently added to the Saturday night races, the 
attendance more than doubled the crowd size of the Wednesday night races 
(Deery). The popularity of the "hot rods" continued through the 1950s as the 

Wes Symonds Symonds 4 

December 8, 2000 
English 101 

midgets faded from Rockford's scene. But, in 1951, "stock cars" became the 
main draw at the Rockford Speedway. Unlike the "hot rods", these cars kept 
their fenders and bumpers and used them every chance they got as they 
raced around the quarter-mile bullring. The way the drivers bumped and 
banged their way to the front of the pack on the short track brought the 
crowd to its feet lap after exciting lap. 

In 1958, the future of the Rockford Speedway was assured when a 
part time usher, Hugh Deery, was hired. In 1959, he bought common stock 
in the Rockford Speedway, selling the family station wagon to finance the 
purchase. Over the next tew years he scraped, saved, scrimped and in 1966 
he bought out the original owners and became the sole owner of the 
Rockford Speedway (Deery). 

Mr. Deery then proceeded to make his vision of the Rockford 
Speedway a reality. He wanted it to be one of the finest racing facilities in 
the Midwest. He believed that the heart of racing was the fan, so by making 
it into a family-type of atmosphere he would be able to build a base of loyal 
fans that would come out every week to one of the two races. So he set about 
making the grounds more comfortable for the fans. Better seating, cleaner 
restrooms, more ticket windows and better food concessions were all done in 

Wes Symonds Symonds 5 

December 8, 2000 
English 101 

the interest of making it better tor the fans. 

He wanted to add weekly "special" attractions. This, over time, 
became one of the trademarks associated with the Rockford Speedway. At 
first it was only an aerial bomb going off after the national anthem. But it 
grew from there. It may not have always been something as spectacular as 
the now famous School Bus or Trailer Races, but he made whatever was 
going on that particular night something one should not miss. As soon as one 
part of his plan became a reality, he would set out on another idea. 

In 1966 and 1967, to battle declining car counts, not having enough 
cars to put on a good show, and high costs to the drivers, he introduced the 
"Rockford Rules" late model stock cars. The rules were implemented to help 
drivers keep costs down so it would be more affordable to race. He also 
employed an end-of-the-year, two-day event. This was to be known as the 
Midwest Short Track Championships. This was soon copied across the 
nation at other tracks that were also experiencing the same problems. This 
led to Hugh being the "Auto Racing Promoter of the Year" in 1976. This 
award has only been awarded twice to the same person. Hugh Deery again 
won it again in 1984 (Deery). 

Wes Symonds Symonds 6 

December 8, 2000 

English 101 

But the best-laid plans of man do not always work out the way they 
were intended. In July of 1984, High Deery passed away. He was laid to rest 
on July 17 th . That night's racing action is said to be one of the Speedway's 
greatest races ever with driver Bobby Allison coming out as the night's 

As only one of three female promoters at the time, Jody Deery 
stepped in to take command of her husband's dreams. She forged a new 
association with the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing. This, in 
turn, led to an expansion of the "Rockford Nationals" into the Winston 
National Short Track Championships. Mrs. Deery also became partner in the 
Lacrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in Wisconsin. She was awarded her own 
Auto Racing Promoter of the Year Award in 1994, becoming the first 
woman ever to do so. Also in 1994, the grandstand was updated to 
aluminum and steel construction with backrests in the reserved seating area. 
Ten luxury suites were added and new restrooms were also put in. 

One can look back today and the quote from the 1 948 National Speed 
Sport News that proclaimed Rockford as the "Midwest's Finest Short Track"' 
still can be applied today ("Speedway to Open"). It still holds true today. 

Symonds 1 

Works Cited 

Ambruoso, Jim. Rockford Speedway Track Announcer, Personal Interview, 

October 6 th , 2000. 
Deery, Jack. Track President, Letter, October 19 th , 2000. 
"Ground Is Broken for Midget Auto Race Track", Rockford Morning Star , 

January 7 th , 1948, NP. 

Moc, Jim. Rockford Speedway Historian, Telephone Interview, October 8 

"Speedway To Open May 19", Rockfordiana Files , April 25 th , 1948, NP. 



"Ground is Broken", Rockford Morning Star , January 7 th , 1948, NP. 
Moc, Jim. "Where The Action Is", Rockford Magazine , April 1987, P. 19. 
Moc, Jim. "Hugh Deery with Ned Jarrett and Janet Guthrie", Rockford 

Magazine , April 1987, P. 21. 
Overhead view of the Speedway, Unknown Origin. 
Talley, Rick. "Sports in Rockford", City Often in Limelight, Sinnissippi 

Saga, P.485-486. 


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Saint Anthony Hospital : The Tradition Continues 


Angela S. Farr 

Rock Valley College 

29 November 2000 

Farr 1 

Angela Farr 

November 29, 2000 
English 101 

Saint Anthony Hospital: The Tradition Continues 

Their motto for over the last hundred years: providing loving and compassionate 
care to all that enter their doors. They spend their days and nights unselfishly helping 
others in their time of need. They sacrifice their weekends, nights, and holidays pledging 
their devotion to their patients. The nurses, doctors, administrators, cooks, and 
volunteers all make a difference in the hospital that was named after the patron saint of 
the sick. Saint Anthony Hospital was started in 1899 because of local need, and 
eventually moved to a new state-of-the art facility in 1963 to satisfy local demand. The 
goal of the 2 1 st century is to continue growing and to maintain their reputation as a leader 
in the healthcare community. 

William Crotty, a local real estate agent, raised awareness for the need for an east- 
side hospital ("Building Acquired"; "Chronically 111" 1). With the help of Dr. Paul 
Markley, Crotty led a subscription drive to raise funds to purchase the old Schmauss 
home for $12,000 ("Saint Anthony's Hospital" 2). The Rockford Republican explains 
that the Third Order of St. Francis, who operated similar facilities, were contacted by Dr. 
Markley and William Crotty to operate the facility at 1411 East State Street ("Building 
Acquired"; "Chronically 111" 1 ). When the Sisters agreed to run the hospital, $6,000 of 
funds that had been raised were combined with an interest -free loan, that was obtained 
from the sisters of Peoria, to purchase the old Schamuss home ("Saint Anthony Hospital" 

Angela Farr 
November 29, 2000 
English 101 

Saint Anthony Hospital The Tradition Continues 

Their motto for over the last hundred years: providing loving and compassionate 
care to all that enter their doors. They spend their days and nights unselfishly helping 
others in their time of need. They sacrifice their weekends, nights, and holidays pledging 
their devotion to their patients. The nurses, doctors, administrators, cooks, and 
volunteers all make a difference in the hospital that was named after the patron saint of 
the sick. Saint Anthony Hospital was started in 1899 because of local need, and 
eventually moved to a new state-of-the art facility in 1963 to satisfy local demand. The 
goal of the 21 st century is to continue growing and to maintain their reputation as a leader 
in the healthcare community. 

William Crotty, a local real estate agent, raised awareness for the need for an east- 
side hospital ("Building Acquired"; "Chronically 111" 1 ). With the help of Dr. Paul 
Markley, Crotty led a subscription drive to raise funds to purchase the old Schmauss 
home for $12,000 ("Saint Anthony's Hospital" 2). The Rockford Republican explains 
that the Third Order of St. Francis, who operated similar facilities, were contacted by Dr. 
Markley and William Crotty to operate the facility at 1411 East State Street ("Building 
Acquired", "Chronically 111" 1 ). When the Sisters agreed to run the hospital, $6,000 of 
funds that had been raised were combined with an interest -free loan, that was obtained 
from the sisters of Peoria, to purchase the old Schamuss home ("Saint Anthony Hospital" 

Farr 2 

After the Sisters arrived, William Crotty was thrown from his horse and fatally 
injured ("Hospital's 59 Years" 1). The Sisters, led by Sister Benigna, were able to turn 
the two-story residence into a hospital in just 49 days, opening their doors on August 18, 
1989 ("Hospital's 59 Years" 1). Before they officially opened their doors, the hospital 
had admitted their first patient, Timothy Dwyre, on August 2 ("Building Acquired'; 
"Chronically 111" 1 ). Dwyre was treated for a gangrenous toe and was billed $40.00 for 
his four-week stay (Hospital's 59 Years See Colorful History 1). The first operation was 
performed by Dr. Allaben on Guy Tyrrell who was suffering from empyema ("St. 
Anthony Hospital Looks"). 

Answering the need for a larger facility, a $60,000 addition expanded the hospital 
to 60 beds ("Building Acquired"; "Chronically 111" 2). An east wing expansion was 
completed in 1909, and then a west wing in 1915 pushed the bed capacity to 125 
("Hospital's 59 Years" 1). In 1928, a $360,000 four-story addition was constructed 
immediately west of the current building ("Building Acquired", "Chronically 111" 2). 
This added space for 90 more patients, a maternity ward, laboratories and a x-ray room 
that connected the original hospital by a two-story passage("Building Acquired", 
"Chronically 111" 2). The nursing school was completed in 1941, moving the school 
which had been previously housed in nearby residences ("Hospital's 59 Years" 2). A 
federal grant for $48,848 was awarded to the nursing school in 1943 to help train cadet 
nurses for the United States military ("Hospital gets $48,848"). In 1948 a modern 
laundry building was constructed behind the hospital that was equipped with the latest in 
laundry equipment ("St. Anthony Hospital") 

Farr 3 

The hospital board had been aware of the escalating problems of the current 
location ("St. Anthony Buys" 2). The committee actively searched for a new location, 
rejecting at least 10 for poor location and high cost ("St. Anthony Buys" 1 ). After 
months of searching, 75 acres of land were purchased by the hospital on February 26, 
1959 for $169,582, or $2,250 an acre ("Completed Site Purchase") The heavily wooded 
lot located on 5666 East State Street, 910 feet wide and a half-mile deep, is located on the 
north side of East State Street and was purchased from the eleven heirs of James E. 
Corlett ("Completed Site Purchase"). During the search for land, local architects 
Hubbard and Hyland, created the plans for the new 235-bed hospital which bears a cross- 
like shape ("New $4,100,000 Building" 1). On October 18, 1960, Bishop Lane 
conducted the ground breaking ceremonies for the $4,500,000 new hospital ("Ground is 
Broken"). Shortly thereafter, construction contracts were announced by the corporation 
of the Sister of Saint Francis totaling $3,537,124 ("Contractors To Begin" ). The 
October 1962 opening was postponed by the Lay Advisory Council to give contractors 
additional time to complete their work ("St. Anthony Opening"). 

Over two years later, on January 18, 1963 the newly constructed hospital opened 
its doors for business ("Franciscans Open"). The new facilities were comprised of three 
separate buildings: the sisters 1 convent, a power plant, and the hospital, and included the 
area's first psychiatric unit ("Franciscans Open"). The old Saint Anthony Building 
became the St Clara Continuing Care Center to provide long-term and geriatric care to 
the community ("Former Hospital"). This change allows persons needing an acute 
facility or continuing care at the lowest possible cost ("Franciscans Open"). 

Fair 4 

Plans for a $2,450,000 expansion program began about a little of a year after the 
hospital's opening due to being filled beyond capacity ("St. Anthony Hospital will Add"). 
Plans included adding a fourth floor to the hospital for an acute care center, a separate 
facility for the elderly, and a laundry building. ("Expansion Begins"). An immediate 
need for an acute care unit developed due to the hospital occupancy being at 85% to 
1 00% at all times ("St. Anthony Hospital will Add"). A separate center for the elderly 
helped replace the St. Clara Center for Continuing Care Center, whose doors were closed 
on December 3 1, 1963 because of the cost to meet state requirements ("St. Anthony 
Hospital will Add".). A new laundry facility would be constructed, since the hospital had 
been using the laundry facilities at the old hospital since its opening ("Expansion 

President of the hospital advisory board, Paul Lindstedt, announced plans on 
November 16, 1967 to construct a new $1,500,000 nursing school ("Hospital to Build 
School"). The current classrooms at the hospital, would be converted into patient rooms 
because of the direct need for space ("Hospital to Build School"). The nursing school 
dormitories and all additional property residing at the old location, was purchased by 
Swedish- American Hospital ("Groundbreaking to Mark"). 

In 1975, Saint Anthony Hospital completed a $10,100,000 expansion ("Hospital 
Wing"). The addition included an orthopedic floor, and medical-surgical floor, 
administrative offices, a new main entrance, hospital pharmacy, and a new cafeteria and 
gift shop (Hospital Wing"). During the dedication, a time capsule was filled of items of 
the present and past to be opened in 2075 ("Hospital Wing"). 

Fan 5 

As construction kept changing the look of the hospital, the role of the Sisters also 
kept changing ("Century Changed"). The role of the Sisters had changed from cooking 
and cleaning to various administrative roles ("Century Changed" 1 ). This was a long 
way from their beginning, when their order was established after they fled Herford, 
Germany because of religious persecution ("The St. Francis Sister"). 

In 1993, Saint Anthony Hospital won approval from the Illinois Health Facilities 
Planning Board to build a cancer center ("State Okays"). It was originally denied by the 
board because of the threat of radiology services becoming underused at Swedish- 
American Hospital ("State Okays"). The $7,700,000 project included a two-story, 
22,000 square-foot addition to the south end of the hospital (State Okays Cancer Center 
N. Pag). The center, dedicated to prevention, detection, and treatment also included a 
$2,500,000 linear accelerator ("State Okays") 

Not only approaching the millennium, but also their 100 year anniversary, Saint 
Anthony broke ground for a new $22,000,000 Ambulatory Center in the fall of 1999 
("Join Us"). The expansion would help meet the growing demands for procedures not 
requiring an overnight stay ("Century Changed" 1). Hospital executives expect the 
construction to be completed in early 2001 ("Century Changed"). 

It is unknown what the future will hold Even after a hundred years, the 
construction does not change St. Anthony's Hospital's mission or their willingness to 
grow. Proof of their top quality care is shown through just of few of their remarkable 
accomplishments; the first open-heart, bypass and off pump performed in the area, the 
first Regional Trauma Center and Neuro Intensive Care and Burn Intensive Care Units in 
Northwest Illinois, the first to provide air emergency services in the area, and the first 

Fair 6 

hospital in the area to offer High-Dose Rate brachytherapy and radioactive seed 
implantation for the treatment of cancer. An overview shows a humble beginning, a 
remarkable heritage, and an exciting future. 

Fair 7 

Works Cited 
'Building Acquired in 1899 Aged, Chronically 111 Are to Remain." Rockford Republican. 
Rockfordiana File Rockford Public Library. 18 January 1963. 

'Century Changed Nursing Order " Register Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public 
Library. 20 February 1977. 

'Completed Site Purchase for Hospital" Rockford Republican. Rockfordiana File 
Rockford Public Library. 26 February 1959. 

'Contractors to Begin New Hospital Job." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public 
Library. 8 February 1961. 

"Expansion Begins at St. Anthony's." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public Library. 
10 May 1964. 

"Former Hosptial to Care for 150." Rockford Republican. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library. 18 January 1963. 

Farr 8 

'Franciscans Open 1 1 Hospital." Rockford Republican. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library. 18 January 1963. 

'Ground Breaking to Mark 1 st Phase.' 1 Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public Library. 
3 March 1968. 

'Ground is Broken At Hospital Site." Rockford Republican. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library. 18 January 1963. 

'Hospital Gets $48,848 Grant. 1 ' Rockford Republican. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library. 12 December 1943. 

'Hospital to Build School for Nurses." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public Library. 
19 November 1967. 

Fair 9 

'Hospital's 59 Years See Colorful History." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public 
Library. 29 June 1958. 

'Join us for our 100 th Anniversary Celebration." Register Star. . Rockfordiana File 
Rockford Public Library. 5 May 1999. 

'New $4, 100,000 Building to Have Latest Facilities." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library 8 February 1959. 

'St. Anthony Buys E. State Rd. Site; Keep Present Unit." Star. Rockfordiana File 
Rockford Public Library. 7 November 1958. 

'St. Anthony Hospital is $1,500,000 Institution " Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library 3 September 1950. 

St. Anthony Hospital Looks for 1928 to be Banner Year." Star. Rockfordiana File 
Rockford Public Library. 15 July 1928. 

Farr 10 

'St. Anthony Will Add Fourth Floor, Elderly Center." Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford 
Public Library. 11 February 1964. 

"St Anthony's Hospital." Daily Rockford Register. Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public 
Library. Month and Day Unknown 1903 

The St. Francis Sister have a Long History of Service." Register Star. Rockfordiana File 
Rockford Public Library. 12 April 1997. 

'State Okays Cancer Center " Register Star. Rockfordiana File Rockford Public Library. 
23 July 1993. 

^1". (Whoops Hospital 



s Which Will be Dedicated by Archbishop Quigleyi 
With Ceremonial Observances To- Morrow. f, 

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H&tl architect's sketch of (be proposed $4,100,000 St. Anthony hospital on E. Slate rd., 
Hewed from directly south, shows a modern hrick structure with marhle trim and wide areas 
f glass windows. The building will he completely fireproof and air-conditioned, and sound- 
absorbing materials will he used where practical. <j\'T 32> O -C~C' 

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NEAIiS COMPLETION— St. Anthony's new $4.5 million hospital months ahead of schedule. Worlcmen are now putting finishing 

on E. State St. Road is nnarinjf' completion. Target date of con- touches on top' floor of building. Soon movable equipment will go , 

tractors for turning facilities over to Sisters of Third Order of in. r L . / '> ; 

St Francis is Sept. 15. Hospital will open in Odobcr, seven ... ... \^r L -^'" /Q-Cd^>. 




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Ilospilal is this convent to house Sisters of Third Order of St. of hospital grounds is expected to be completed this fall after 

Francis who will staff new hospital facilities. Building is ex- construction work is completed, 
reeled to be ready for occupancy in September, when order will 

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St. Anthony Hospital, founded in 1899, was represented by this structure at 1411 E. State St. was equipped with 125 beds for 
scene at the time of its silver jubilee celebration in 1924. The patients. 


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Also to be undertaken in the expansion program at the hos- lines the present limits of the building. Cost of the program 
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St. Edward's Church 

Pam Berg 

14 December 2000 

Rock Valley College 

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Pam Berg 

English 101 

14 December 2000 

St. Edward's Church 

The cross sits high on top of the center arch doorway that leads into the holy 
ground. The building is protecting the inside with outer layers of beige-bricks, and 
narrow stained glass windows that surround this castle. "St. Edward's Church" the sign 
says, in a square box, which lights up at night. The church was born 71 years ago. 

The church was created in a typically rural area, with many fruit trees, garden 
plots, and cornfields, in the southeast area of Rockford, Illinois, on 1 1 th street just half of 
a mile off by-pass 20 (Murphy et al. 7). The church was needed to provide a haven to 
scatter the word of our loving father in heaven. 

In 1 929, there were fifteen acres of land that were owned by two families, ten 
acres from the Edward Warner's Family, and five acres from the Edward Bargren's 
Family (Murphy et al. 7). Note: The owners of the land have St. Edward's first name. 

Ironically, another Edward, Bishop Edward F. Hoban, recognized the need of 
many Catholic families, about 1 7 nationalities, some Irish, English, German, Belgian, 
Lithuanian, French, Polish, Italian, Croatian, Bohemian, Holland, Dutch, Spanish, 
Austrian, Scotch, Swedish, and Mexican, located in the southeast sector of the city of 
Rockford who had to travel long distances to worship (Murphy et al. 7; "Bishop"; 
McDonald 271). Therefore, he formally established St. Edward. Rumors have it that 
because the Bishop erected the new parish, and had the first name Edward, he requested 
Saint Edward in a letter to Father Bermingham, the first pastor who was assigned to the 




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creation of the church (Murphy et al. 6,7; "Bishop"). So, in honor of the patron saint of 
Bishop Hoban, the church was named St. Edward ("Bishop"). 

In the fall of 1929, through the Catholic Diocese, Bishop Edward F. Hoban 
proceeded to purchase the land and four useful buildings that were readily available 
(Murphy et al. 7). 

One of the buildings was an old farm home, known as the Warner's Rooming 
House. It was located on the north edge of the property. This house would become Saint 
Edward's first church. It was painted white and had a red barn in the rear. The house 
was a two-story building with three rooms down, three rooms up, a basement, and two 
sun porches (Murphy et al. 7). 

The other house, The Bargren's, sat on the southwest side of the newly acquired 
property. It was painted white, and behind it was a garage-type building with four stalls. 
The Bargren's House would be the future rectory. It had a dining room, living room, a 
kitchen downstairs, three bedrooms upstairs, but no bathroom. All the buildings were 
badly in need of repair and renovation (Murphy et al. 7). 

During the fetal growth of the church, the people who became the parishioners 
were in the mist of the Great Depression; while struggling through extreme poverty, some 
of the unused property was rented out for whatever small income it might produce. Many 
of the original parishioners grew vegetables for their families (Murphy et al. 7). 

The first mass was offered in a four-stall garage behind the Bargren's Home while 
the task of converting the Warner's Home into St. Edward's Church was taking place. 
There was room for only 14 worshippers on two kneelers inside the garage. The other 
forty or fifty in attendance usually stood or knelt in the gravel driveway. The first mass 


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collection was $19.82. In the spring and summer of 1930, the priest heard confessions in 
a temporary shelter under a nearby tree (Murphy et al. 8; "St. Edward's Area's"). 

One of the immediate needs of the church development was to provide living 
quarters and an office for Father Bermingham. While waiting for the restorative work to 
be completed, the parishioners were generous with what little they had. One family, the 
Frank Beyer Family, invited Father Thomas Bermingham to stay with them until the 
rectory was restored, and the bathroom facilities were installed. He had been at the 
Beyer's Home for about six months when the Beyer's sons asked Father to come down to 
the basement and see their fish collection. While downstairs, he noticed a bed and 
inquired about it. He learned that Mr. & Mrs. Beyer had given up their room to Father. 
Father Bermingham immediately went to Bishop Hoban, who suggested that he stay at 
St. Anthony Hospital until the pastor's living quarters would be ready in the spring of 
1930 (Murphy et al. 7,8; "Bishop"). 

Still facing a major depression, the parishioners shared their small incomes and 
gave zealously of their talents. Henry Schenk and John Meehan did carpentry work 
including building the altar. Steve Kluz painted the outside, Stan Himbert the inside. 
With their help and other volunteers, the entire interior of the Warner's Home was 
remodeled. A vestibule was added to the front, and an additional space was created in the 
back for the altar. An organ, Stations of the Cross, and Pews came form various friends 
and other churches (Murphy et al. 8). 

Finally, the first church of St. Edward's was completed in the fall of 1929 at the 
cost of $45,000. No construction firm, just the generosity of the parishioners with their 
faith and love. St. Edward's Church was born in the fall of 1930, and blessed by Bishop 


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Hoban (Murphy et al. 8). With the acceptance of the parish, the church was like a tiny 
seed, planted there, able to grow and spread the word of God (Murphy 5). It is stated in 
Psalmist: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it" (O'Neal 4). 

At birth in 1930 when the Warner's House was renovated to become the first 
church, the growth was slow. The Great Depression was evolving into hardship for the 
world and neighboring areas. Father Thomas Bermingham sent a penny postcard to each 
parishioner asking them to send one dollar to assist in maintaining the parish 
(Bermingham 5). The Catholics in the parish were barely able to survive, let alone 
support, a new church. Father Bermingham stayed at St. Edward's Parish for four years. 
In 1933, Father Bermingham volunteered to a challenging mission that President 
Roosevelt, and Congress had created. It was an organization called Civilian Conservation 
Corps. It was designed to provide working skills and useful employment for the young 
and the old in the country. For the priests: To provide religious services and counseling 
to the youth that were at camps away from their cities and homes (Murphy et al. 8,9; 
"Bishop"; McDonald 271). 

Another priest took over St. Edward's Church in 1933, Father Emmett Murphy. 
He would be the chosen one, and would face an indebtedness of $64,000 (Murphy et al. 
10; "Bishop"). Father Murphy would end up staying at St. Edward's Church for 40 years 
(Murphy et al. 10; "Uncle"). An astute businessman, he instituted effective programs: 
first, the weekly envelopes; second, social events, primarily fund-raisers: dances, 
carnivals, bingo and dinners; third, he begged for financial support from the rich, the 
poor, the merchants, the doctors, and the local dealers of the community in the 
surrounding areas. Father laid this heavy financial burden upon his own shoulders 

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(Murphy et al. 1 1). In 1960, Joe Berg recalled, "Father Emmett Murphy going door to 
door begging for money." In the thirties the collections rose gradually, but began to 
swell dramatically in the forties (Murphy et al 11,12). 

In 1940, Father Emmett began the building fund for a new church, which would 
be built just south of the old church (Murphy et al. 12). In June of 1941, ground was 
broken for a new Spanish-style church. Hyland & Hubbard were the architects for the 
church while the Scandroli Construction Company were the builders ("First"). The 
church would be more than ample to serve the needs of the approximately 300 families 
registered in the parish (Murphy et al. 1 3). It measured 1 10 feet in length, and 50 feet in 
width ("Bishop"). The walls were light composition blocks, stuccoes on the exterior and 
painted on the interior. The church had forty oak-stained pews with seating facilities for 
480 people. The high windows were of hammered cathedral glass in staggered shades of 
amber. A small statue of St. Edward was placed high above the entrance, greeting people 
as they went to the mass services ("Bishop"; Murphy et al. 13). 

Inside the church, the main altar made of dark, carved wood, rested on a two-part 
platform against the wall. Above it was a green drapery with religious symbols, and 
suspended directly over the gold-plated tabernacle was a three-foot crucifix. An 
electrical angel-statue candelabra was standing as sentinels on each side, and were lighted 
for all services. Extra candelabra for wax candles were also available for special services 
and Benediction. A small "cry room," an innovation in those days, was behind the 
Blessed Virgin altar to the left, and the sacristy was on the opposite side behind St. 
Joseph's altar. An American flag stood to the right of St. Joseph's statue. Other statues 
in the church represented the Sacred Heart, the Infant Jesus of Prague, and St. Theresa. 


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The church's interior decor featured green and white, which were then, and still are, the 
official colors of St. Edward's Parish and School (Murphy et al. 13). 

By 1942, $25,000 had been raised, and in March of that year the Spanish-style 
church was established. As true Americans during the war, the parishioners all worked 
together harmoniously with their pastor for the advancement of their parish and the 
salvation of souls (Murphy et al. 12,14; "Bishop"). 

In the fall of 1942, the former church that was the Warner's Home was converted 
into a convent for the Adrian Dominican Sisters and a school (Murphy et al. 15; "Rev."). 
Rheta Zellner remembers 14 nuns at the convent. The sisters had their living quarters 
upstairs, and in the downstairs they would teach the elementary grades (Murphy et al. 15; 
"Rev." "St. Edward's Area's"). Regular classes were started in the former church. For 
additional space, a barracks building from Camp Grant was procured and moved to St. 
Edward for a year. Since the barracks was unable to be adequately heated, it was torn 
down and replaced by a temporary structure that could be heated from the boiler of the 
original church structure. In later years, the temporary building was moved to the corner 
of Cannon and Reed Streets and became a private home (Murphy et al. 15). 

The first graduating class in 1943 was seven eighth graders. The numbers kept 
increasing each year after. In 1951, St. Edward's School was running out of room. 
Almost ten years later to the day of the first school, the new school was officially 
dedicated on October 19, 1952. The school had 100 students in 1942, and the number 
was nearly 350 in 1952 (Murphy et al. 15,16). Rheta Zellner, a student from 1952 to 
1954 remembers enjoying Halloween time at school. "The students could dress up like 
saints, nuns, and Father Murphy would hand out taffy apples. That was very meaningful 

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for me." She became the director of religious education, and worked at the school for 
thirty-three years. She still attends St. Edward's Church. 

While the school was increasing with students, the parish had increased in the 
number of members ("St. Edward's Area's"). Father Emmett Murphy had guided a 
struggling mission into becoming a successful parish, and debt free in 1947. As 
Reverend Donald Ashles recalls, "The parish complex was a little more than a cornfield 
on the borders of Camp Grant." It was attracting new businesses and residential 
developments to the location because of the church and school in the area. As the result 
of the changing area, it was a regular expectation at Sunday Masses to be "standing room 
only." It had become apparent that a newer and larger church would have to be built 
(Murphy et al. 1 7). 

Early in 1968, Father Emmett Murphy had the architectural firm of Hubbard, 
Hyland, Rasmussen, and Smith submit plans for the new church. This was the same firm 
who designed the Spanish-style church. Mr. Leo Bovio, a member of the firm and also a 
parishioner of St. Edward's, worked closely with Father Murphy and the committee. 
Consideration in the design had to be given to the cost, size, seating capacity, acoustics, 
operation, maintenance, compatibility in exterior appearance with the recently built 
school, and traffic patterns. The Stenstrom Construction Company was awarded the 
general contract. The overall cost was $420,000 (Murphy et al. 17,18; "Sanctuary"; "St. 
Edward's Church"). 

By November of 1969, the new church, which exists today, was ready for its first 
mass. St. Edward's Church had begun as a mission parish, and Father Emmett Murphy 
wanted the new church to retain this identity. The mission style, though razed, is 


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noticeable in portions of the building materials of stone, plaster, brick, wood, and tile. 
The altar faces the congregation, and the circular seating encourages fuller participation 
in the Mass. Joe Berg remembers, "Father Emmett Murphy loved his children of his 
parish. He would have all the children from St. Edward's School come and participate in 
the mass. He felt the children needed to attend church more than once a week." Father 
Murphy wanted the church simple in design, moderate in cost, and ample in size (Murphy 
etal. 17,18). 

The church has placed a memorial in front of the school with a flagpole dead 
center, standing tall and proud, in-between two gravestones that lay three feet on opposite 
sides of each other. Two names are engraved on the stones. One is a sergeant, and the 
other a private. Both men were in the military, but in different branches of service. 
"Vietnam" it says, how tragic; they were in the class of 1963 at St. Edward's School. 
They died at such a young age of twenty and twenty-two. The church makes this site a 
sacred place (Writer). 

Standing there in porcelain, in front of the church is Saint Edward. To the touch 
of the hand, it's that of sand paper, very porous, and gritty. The middle finger on the left 
hand, the knuckle area by the bed of the nail, shows a battle wound. A chunk of the holy 
model is missing. About a half of an inch is vacant on its finger. The statue has a crown 
on its head, holds a miniature castle in the left hand, and a cape in its right (Writer). St. 
Edward was the King of England — 1042 — many centuries ago. He died in 1066. He was 
canonized (Saint) 95 years after his death. He had the hands of God. Powerful! The 
touch! Men, women, and children would come to seek the hands that cured and healed 
(Philips 1). Maybe that is why the writer goes to this sanctuary? 

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During the 71 years of this castle's formation, the parish has increased in size and 
St. Edward's Church is the major foundation in the southeast community. Some of the 
businesses around the area have come and gone, and the area looks old and worn, but the 
church is standing strong. Sadly, Father Emmett Murphy has died, but life continues. 
Joe Berg, a Custodian at St. Edward's School in 1971, remembers Father Emmett 
Murphy wanting to see the children of his parish at school, knowing he was dying. 
Fortunately, for the church and parish, Father James Murphy, nephew to the late Father 
Emmett, took over the responsibility in 1971, to keep the church striving forward 
(Murphy et al. 20). Father James Murphy said, "St. Edward is an excellent church; it's a 
little bit of heaven." From the boost in parishioners, it must be true (Phillips 1). 

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Works Cited 
Ahles, Reverend Donald. "Personal Recollections." "50 Golden Years" St. Edward's 

Parish 1929-1979 . Ed. Ben P Lingis. Rockford: 1979: 59-60. 
Berg, Joe. Personal Interview. 2 Nov. 2000. 
Bermingham, Father Thomas. "My Little Parish." "50 Golden Years" St. Edward's 

Parish 1929-1979 . Ed. Ben P Lingis. Rockford: 1979: 5. 
"Bishop to Dedicate St. Edward's Church at 1 1 A.M. Sunday." Observer. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 5 May. 1942. 
"First Services Sunday in New Catholic Church." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 20 Mar. 1942. 
McDonald, Reverend Edward. Golden Jubilee History of the Diocese of Rockford 1908- 

1958. Rockford: 271-272. 
Muprhy, Reverend James. Phone Interview. 2 Nov. 2000. 
Murphy, Reverend James. "My Dear Parishioners," "50 Golden Years" St. Edward's 

Parish 1929-1979 . Ed. Ben P Lingis. Rockford: 1979: 5. 
Murphy, Reverend James, et al. "50 Golden Years" St. Edward's Parish 1929-1979. 

Ed. Ben P Lingis. Rockford: 1979. 
O'Neil, Bishop Arthur. "Father James Murphy and all members of St. Edward 

Church:" "50 Golden Years" St. Edward's Parish 1929-1979 . Ed. Ben P Lingis. 

Rockford: 1979: 4. 
Phillips, G.E. "St. Edward the Confessor." Catholic Encyclopedia. V. Trans. Ann 

Waterman. (1999): 2pp. 5 Sept. 2000. 


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"Rev. Tranel Gets St. Edward Post Church To Build 1 1 th St. Convent." Rockford 

Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 3 January. 1958. 
"Sanctuary Planned By St. Edward's." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 8 June. 1968. 
"St. Edward's Area's Center." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 26 June. 

"St. Edward's Church Opens Its Doors." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 13 Dec. 1969. 
"Uncle and nephew serve St. Edward's." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 3 July. 1971. 
Writer. "St. Edward's Church." This research paper. 4 Dec. 2000. 
Zellner, Rheta. Phone Interview. 31 Oct. 2000. 


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Saint James Catholic Church: 

Precisely Through the Point of Assurance 


Zeferino Reyes 
30 November 2000 
Rock Valley College 

However take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the 
things which your own eyes have seen nor let them slip from your 
memory as long as you live but teach them to your children and to 
your children's children. 

- Deuteronomy 4 vs. 9 

■i >, A 


! t. 

Zeferino Reyes Reyes - 1 

English 101 IND 
November 30, 2000 

Precisely Through the Point of Assurance 

It was the year 1837; a small community established a church by the name of 

Saint Patrick's (a Catholic church). 

Father Patrick McMahon was appointed the first Pastor of Saint Patrick's, 

with additional responsibility for the faithful souls in Island (now 

Marengo), Belvidere, and Rockford (Guide Book 4). 

A man, respectfully named "Father John Hampston" located in the parish of Saint 

Patrick's. Father Hampston, being newly ordained, was assigned to help people in the 

nearby mission areas, first located in Belvidere. He also helped in Marengo and 

Rockford. Because nearby Rockford grew at a rapid pace, Father Hampston relocated to 

Rockford (Miller 268). 

Fourteen years later, on November 15, 1851, Bishop Van de Velde (from Saint 

Patrick's) assigned Father Hampston to Saint James (a Catholic church). He would be 

the first Pastor and Saint James would be the first Catholic Church in Rockford. The 

property that Saint James stood on was purchased on January 15, 1851 for one hundred 

fifty dollars. The location given was "Lot one, Block 26, village of Rockford, east of the 

Rock River" (Kirkfleet 89). If one were to purchase the same property today, it would 

easily cost over ten thousand dollars. Father Hampston built a one-story wooden shack 

that would hold two hundred people in 1852 (see Appendix A). Bishop Van de Velde 

came to bless Saint James on June 7, 1853. Unfortunately, Father John Hampston did not 

live much longer after the completion of Saint James. He died in February of 1854 

Reyes - 2 
suffering from a head cold attained while officiating a funeral in a Belvidere Cemetery 
(McDonald 89). A ceremony was held to honor Father Hampston and he was buried 
under the church (Kirkfleet 89). 

Father John Donelan, assigned in 1 860, was the first Pastor to make any changes 
to Saint James (see Appendix B). 

The Catholic Congregation greatly increased in size and prestige during 
the pastorate of the Reverend Donelan and before long it was found 
necessary to build a new and larger church. Consequently, in the year 
1861, the foundation was laid for the present Saint James Church, now 
Saint James Pro-Cathedral. (Kirkfleet 92) 
Pro-Cathedral is a parish church that is used as a cathedral. The construction of the new 
Saint James came to a halt on Sunday, July 15, 1866 when Father Donelan died. Heart 
difficulty and inflammation of the stomach caused his death. With a tremendous amount 
of respect. Father Donelan was also buried beneath the church (McDonald 90). 

In 1866, after the death of Father John Donelan, a new pastor was assigned to 
Saint James. Jeremiah O'Neill took charge of the church with the intention of 
completing where Father Donelan left off (see Appendix C). On Sunday, April 28, 1867, 
a cornerstone was set in place. A newer rectory, a convent (see Appendix G) and a 
school were built along with the church. It took approximately sixty thousand dollars to 
complete the church alone (Kirkfleet 98). The rectory housed Father O'Neill and the 
school was formed to educate future children (see Appendix D and E). Father O'Neill 
left Saint James for 

Reyes - 3 
some time to recover from a severe illness he had. The death of Father O'Neill quickly 
arose after coming back from a leave of absence. Father O'Neill died on April 27, 1 884 
in Chicago, Illinois. Being greatly respected, Father Jeremiah O'Neill was also buried 
underneath the church to accompany Fathers John Hampston and John Donelan 
(Kirkfleet 98). Three pastors that made remarkable changes to the Saint James lay 
beneath the church. 

Years passed and the year 1 946 arrived. Unfortunately there has not been enough 
documentation to record the happenings between 1884 and 1946. All the history of Saint 
James was stored in Chicago; a fire in the building caused all the paperwork to be burned 
and lost (Kirkfleet 89). Father Joseph Healey was appointed to take over Saint James, and 
soon renovated the church a bit. His accomplishments provided a kitchen in the church 

Then the whole basement was excavated for use as a hall. The bodies of 
the first Pastors, Father Hampston, Father Donelan, and Father O'Neill, 
were excavated, and were removed to the cemetery. The church was 
redecorated and marble alters installed. Extensive repairs were made in 
the convent, rectory and school. (Miller 270) 
During an interview with Reverend David Beavais (see Appendix F), Zeferino 
Reyes received information about the Dominican Sisters that came to Saint James. The 
Sisters came from Sinsanawa, Wisconsin in 1 886 to teach children at the school. The 
convent was supplied to house the Dominican Sisters. 

Reyes - 4 

Today Saint James Catholic Church in Rockford, Illinois still exists. During an 
interview with Zeferino Reyes on September 1 1 , 2000 he was asked what he thought of 
Saint James. He says, "When I drive south on 2 nd Street, and see Saint James Church, I 
begin to have a soothing feeling of coziness like a baby in his/her mother's arms." 

One will see several sights that are amazing. Inside the church, after entering a 
set of double doors, walk north about twenty feet and turn to go east up seven stairs. 
Before another set of double doors, a small basin of lukewarm holy water rests on the 
wall. This is used for someone to bless himself or herself before entering the main part of 
the church. 

Once inside the church, behind the alter, a marvelous statue of the blessed mother 
Mary stands five feet high bounded with a gorgeous bluish-green shawl. Glancing to the 
right of her, there is another statue of the same height, of Joseph (see Appendix H). 
There is always a beautiful arrangement of flowers that consists of red roses, and white 
daffodils just to name a few. These flowers enhance the image of the church. There are 
pews to the left and right side of the church. The pews are used to seat those who go to 
church and the padded fold-down rails are used to comfort those kneeling down during 
mass. Just being inside the church can soothe people that will feel protected without 
worries in the house of god. Throughout the church, there are glorious sights of art, 
statues, fine woodwork and the marvelous scenery given by the stained glass. 

Many things have changed since the birth of Saint James Church. Over a hundred 
years, important changes have occurred to the church, and some records no longer exist. 

Reyes - 5 
Zeferino Reyes has gained the knowledge of how important it is to learn of 
history. Noticing the three Pastors that made changes to the church, a pattern developed. 
This being that one would start to build the church and die before being completed. The 
second would start to make the church larger and begin to suddenly die. The last being 
Father O'Neill completing what the second and starting another project and die. They 
were all highly respected, being buried beneath the church. Saint James originates from a 
small one-story wooden shack to the large church along with a rectory, school, and 
convent. It is still known that Saint James Catholic Church in Rockford, Illinois is the 
first Catholic Church in Rockford. 

Reyes - 6 
Works Cited 
Beavais, Reverend David E. Personal interview. 29 September 2000. 
Guide Book © 2000. St James Church , August 2000 Guide Book & Directory . St Louis: 

Guidebook, 2000. 4-5. 
Kirkfleet, The Reverend Cornelius J. "Chapter XI, The City of Rockford." History of 

the Diocese of Rockford . Chicago: John Anderson, 1 924. 86-104. 
McDonald, Reverend Edward L. "St James Pro-Cathedral Rockford." Golden Jubilee , 

History of the Diocese of Rockford . Rockford: Waldsmith, 1954. 89-92. 
Miller, Robert R. "St James Parish, Rockford." That AU May Be One, A History of the 

Rockford Diocese . Rockford: The Diocese of Rockford, 1976. 268-272. 
Reyes, Zeferino. Personal interview. 1 1 Sep. 2000. 
St James Church. 1998. 2-6. 


Reyes - 7 

Appendix A (Kirkfleet 89) 

Rev. John P. Donelan 


Appendix B (Kirkfleet 91) 

Rev. Jeremiah S. O'Neill 

Appendix C (Kirkfleet 101) 

Reves - 8 

St. James Parochial School 

Appendix D (Kirkfleet 102) 

The Rectory 

Appendix E (McDonald 90) 

Rev. David Beavais 

Appendix F (St James Church 6) 

Reves - 9 

1 ne Convent 

Appendix G (McDonald 92) 

Interior of St. James Church 

Appendix H (Miller 270) 


Reves - 1 

Saint James Cathedral, Rockford, llli 



Saint James Church, 1991 


Open the Doors to the Garden 

Haley Mauling 

December 2, 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Haley Mauling Mauling- 1 

English 101 NDF2 

December 14, 2000 

Open the Doors to the Garden 

Sinnissippi Gardens has been through it all and they have still remained to keep 
up with all the stress and stay with Rockford for 85 years. The gardens open their doors 
and take anyone away from the everyday stresses of urbanized America. Its like a whole 
New World separated only by a single road from the busy streets of everyday experience. 

In the year 1909 in the city of Rockford, there were not many recreational spots in 
town, just a lot of open, abandoned land. There were few businesses and no landscaped 
beauty. Mayor Jardine wanted to change this; he wanted to develop a place that would 
bring joy to all of the people of the city. A place with beautifully landscaped terrain, 
flowers, trees, and different varieties of plants. A landscape creation where people would 
explore and be mesmerized by the beauty and surroundings it holds. He also thought that 
it would be a good place for recreational use, a place to picnic or just to get out and 
explore with the family ("Sinnissippi is a Famous"). 

The North 2 nd street area where Mayor Jardine wanted to purchase the land was 
called "Rood Woods" (named after Harold Woods who owned the land for 40 years) 
(Carlson). Mayor Jardine purchased the land in 1909 and called it "Sunken Gardens" 
because it needed so much work to become what he wanted it to be (Park Board). This 
land had little in its path; it was bare and abandoned. It would soon be transformed in to 
a flower wonderland (Dusher). 

Haley Mauling Mauling- 1 

English 101 NDF2 
December 14, 2000 

Open the Doors to the Garden 

Sinnissippi Gardens has been through it all and they have still remained to keep 
up with all the stress and stay with Rockford for 85 years. The gardens open their doors 
and take anyone away from the everyday stresses of urbanized America. Its like a whole 
New World separated only by a single road from the busy streets of everyday experience. 

In the year 1909 in the city of Rockford, there were not many recreational spots in 
town, just a lot of open, abandoned land. There were few businesses and no landscaped 
beauty. Mayor Jardine wanted to change this; he wanted to develop a place that would 
bring joy to all of the people of the city. A place with beautifully landscaped terrain, 
flowers, trees, and different varieties of plants. A landscape creation where people would 
explore and be mesmerized by the beauty and surroundings it holds. He also thought that 
it would be a good place for recreational use, a place to picnic or just to get out and 
explore with the family ("Sinnissippi is a Famous"). 

The North 2 nd street area where Mayor Jardine wanted to purchase the land was 
called "Rood Woods" (named after Harold Woods who owned the land for 40 years) 
(Carlson). Mayor Jardine purchased the land in 1909 and called it "Sunken Gardens" 
because it needed so much work to become what he wanted it to be (Park Board). This 
land had little in its path; it was bare and abandoned. It would soon be transformed in to 
a flower wonderland (Dusher). 


After the purchasing of the land the construction of the gardens immediately 
followed. The start of the planting included thousands of flowers such as roses, hybrid 
teas, rugosas and polyanthas. This started with an investment of 10,000 dollars. 

After all of the flowers were planted, then other plants were added sparingly due 
to the fact that the flowers cost so much (Ackerman). 

Two men were hired Albert Gesner and Anthony Galvononi to upkeep the 
gardens. Most of the people in the city enjoyed the gorgeous setting and loved having a 
recreational spot to spend time (Ackerman). 

By the year 1923, the garden's upkeep had deteriorated and it was hard to find 
funds due to many different problems going on. The "Great Depression" was running its 
course and this caused a lot of problems funding the gardens (Lundin). There was also a 
huge population boom; there were more people than money. Some upset taxpayers did 
not want to fund the gardens anymore; they wanted their tax money (Courier). 

It is a good thing that this did not go on forever. Little by little, complete 
excavation would start in 1 924 ("Park Board Buys"). Clarence Pedlow, a landscape 
architect, designed a bigger, better gardens that he would also participate in taking care of 
for years to come. The Park Board, which included F.E. Carpenter, G.D. Roper, Levin 
Faust, H.W. Williams and Robert Tinker, were excited about the second construction and 
made it official that it would be the greatest ever. They wanted it to be completed by the 
late 1930s but knew it would take longer due to all of the problems that were going on in 
society ("Sinnissippi Gardens"). 


The gardens made their goal and were complete by the late 1930s and flowers 
once again embellished the land. There were a few new things added to make the 
gardens even more beautiful such as a lagoon, greenhouse and rosarium (Nelson). A 
dedicated editor for the Park Board donated over 1 50 ducks for the lagoon and also 
volunteered his time and some people he knew to help with the lagoon's upkeep. At this 
time the gardens were covered with over 10,000 plants and flowers (Ackerman). 

Unfortunately, the gardens would be devastated by low upkeep and abandonment 
and need to be excavated to be pretty again. This enjoyable, gorgeous area of land had 
fallen to its worst and really needed a pick up (Nelson). 

In the 1950s the Park Board decided to organize a plan to have the gardens 
constructed and perfected for the third time and last time. Again flowers and plants were 
placed in the ground. The lagoon was refurbished and ducks and swans were added. The 
rose garden was increased by 50 percent. The grand floral clock was added to the 
gardens, displaying over 3,000 annuals and costing over 40,000 dollars. The greenhouse 
and the rosarium were polished up and filled with plants. By 1970, Sinnissippi Gardens 
had cost about 200,000 dollars (Purnell). 

Sinnissippi Gardens have been flourishing at their very best since 1985. The 
gardens have had a lot more financing available now than in the past due to new taxes. 
Maintenance has tripled in the past 15 years so this keeps them looking fascinating. A 
full time crew, which includes Mark Rohrer, Glen Green and Allen Phillips, keep 
everything running smoothly (Ackerman). 

Mark Stone says, "I love this place. It is so peaceful and relaxing, a perfect place 
to unwind, or do homework. I used to come here with my grandmother when I was 
younger to feed the ducks and it was a beautiful place, but today it is extravagant. It is so 
pretty." Mark's grandmother recently passed on and when he takes a stroll and spends 
time at the gardens it reminds him of the times when he was a child spending it with her 

The gardens are a beautiful paradise setting and waiting for the next person to 
come see and endure their beauty. The gardens welcome visitors by their ravishing 
flowers and plants, fresh, aromatic air and peaceful environment. Bonnie Taylor's 
nephew was married at the gardens in the rain and said that it was something that the 
whole family would never forget. Bonnie says, "It was such a beautiful wedding even 
though it was raining and the brides dress was soaked in mud, I'll never forget it" 

Amy Lander's boyfriend proposed to her at the gardens and she said it was 
something that she would always remember and hold in her heart. Amy says, "It was so 
beautiful and sunny out and the flowers surrounding me made it so sweet. He was 
creative with one of the rose bushes and hid my ring on one of the thorns, it was so cute" 


Sinnissippi Gardens holds a lot more than just flowers and plants. It opens a door 
to a lot of heart-filled memories for a lot of people. 

Today Sinnissippi Gardens has a lot to offer. The gardens have a greenhouse with 
seasonal arrangements with a space of 5,500 square feet. The annual gardens have 23 
acres of land with more than 10,000 plants in the summer. The rose garden, which has 
been recognized as the "All American Rose Selection" by the (Illinois Rose Association), 
features 4,000 plants with 200 varieties. The floral clock is the largest timepiece in 
Rockford constructed of 3,500 plants ("Sinnissippi Gardens Abloom"). 

There is also more to enjoy that is not related to plants, flowers or memories. 
There is a lagoon filled with ducks, geese, swans, goldfish and turtles. The arboretum is 
a place that provides shade. There is also an aviary that holds 40 to 50 birds such as 
finches, parakeets, canaries and waxbills. Two unusual sculptures of working men stand 
alone representing the Rockford Industrial area (Purnell). 

Sinnissippi Gardens has been through a lot of changes and growing with the city it 
has grown up with. It is old and is still the most beautiful site in Rockford. It has opened 
its doors to people and made memories that will last a lifetime. The gardens have 
definitely earned recognition for developing beauty, memories and being one of the 
greatest historical sites in Rockford. Come explore the open doors of this spellbinding 
dome and feel all of the wonders it embraces. 

Haley Mauling 

English 101 NDF2 

December 14, 2000 Mauling-^ 

Works Cited 

Ackerman, Marsha. "Sinnissippi Park and Gardens." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 18 June 1986. 
Carlson, Leona. "How the Gardens Grew." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 21 August 1987. 
Courier, Senior. "The Sinnissippi Gardens Have a Long History." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 06 June 1989. 
Dusher, Editha. "Vision Built A Rose Garden." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 27 July 1945 
Illinois State Park Magazine- "A Complete Guide to State Parks." 1998. 
Lander, Amy. Phone Interview. 23 October 2000. 

Lundin, Jon. Rockford An Illustrated History. American Historical Press: 1996. 
Nelson, Hal. Sinnissippi Saga A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois. 

Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee: 1968. 
"Park Board Buys More Land on 2 nd Street." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 05 April 1940. 
Purnell, Florestine. "Sinnissippi Rose Gardens Keeps Growing." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 03 June 1984. 
Rockford Park District- "A Look Back, A Snapshot Today." 
P.ockford Park District- "Annual Guide to Services." 


"Sinnissippi Cost 47,000." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. Date NA. 
"Sinnissippi Gardens." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 06 October 1941 
"Sinnissippi Gardens Abloom with Flowers and Memories." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 21 August 1987. 
"Sinnissippi is a Famous Show Place." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 28 March 1947. 
Star, R. "Rockford' s First Park Sought 65 Years Ago." 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 12 May 1974. 
Stone, Mark. Phone Interview. 19 August 2000. 
Taylor, Bonnie. Phone Interview. 01 November 2000. 


Sinnissippi Gardens lagoon in 1910. 

Sinnissippi Gardens lagoon in 1964. 


Sinnissippi Gardens in the late 1960's. 

< > - 

Is Diversity The Key to Sundstrand's Success? 

Randall Reagan 

December 10,2000 

Rock Valley College 

Reagan 1 

Randall Reagan 
English 101 NDF2 
December 10, 2000 

Is Diversity The Key to SundstrainTs Success? 

The former Sundstrand Corporation is an example of how diverse companies 
must be to survive in the business world. 

It was the year 1905, early in the industrial revolution, when Levin Faust, Elmer 
Lutzoffand Swan Anderson started the Rockford Tool Company, were they produced 
chucks and pneumatic sanders for the furniture industry ( HamiltonSundtsrandOnline ). 
The furniture industry was thriving in the Northern Illinois community of Rockford. 
Harnessing the power of the Rock River, many small companies sprang up along its 

In 1 909 the Rockford Milling Machine Company was founded by Oscar 
Sundstrand and his brother-in-law Edwin Cedarleaf being joined shortly thereafter by 
David Sundstrand ( HamiltonSundtsrandOnline ). The Rockford Milling Machine 
Company was a job shop business. A job shop is a business where other companies take 
parts of all different sorts to be machined to the predetermined specifications of their 
perspective owners. Imagine the diversity that must be required to perform this task of 
being able to take raw material in various forms and shape it into a final product to the 
satisfaction of its customers. For those with an inventive spirit, like the Sundstrand 
brothers or Edwin Cedarleaf, this atmosphere would be a catalyst of discovery. There 
must also be someone with a steady hand on the financial side of the business as 

Reagan 2 

well.This was the job of Hugo Olson. He served as financial advisor to both of the small 
machine shops with investment of time and money ( "A History..." ). 

The first big breakthrough came around 1914 when David Sundstrand invented 
the 10-key adding machine ( "A History ...; HamiltonSundtsrandOnline ). Until that time 
people were using a more complex adding machine using 9 rows of 9 keys ( "Sundstrand 
Still..." ). The 10-key adding machines were so successful, the company built a four- 
story factory to meet sales. The name Sundstrand became just as synonymous in the 
adding machine business as Xerox is with the copy machine. Oscar Sundstrand kept 
working to refine the invention but his brother David began tinkering with other interests. 
The rights to the adding machine were sold in 1927 to Underwood-Elliot-Fisher, shortly 
after the Rockford Milling Machine and Rockford Tool companies merged to become the 
Sundstrand Machine Tool Company with Hugo Olson serving as company president ( "A 

Oscar and David Sundstrand ended their business relationship when the adding 
machine rights were sold. Oscar remained with the new owners while David worked to 
refine the machines being developed by Sundstrand Machine Tool ( "Sundstrand Still..." 
). Hydraulic fluid power was an area that Sundstrand engineers began experimenting with 
as a means to precisely move the work on machines. The hydraulic pump that was 
developed proved to be very diverse. Used in many machine tool applications worldwide, 
it was also used on oil burning home furnaces ( "Output" ). Another factory was built in 
Rockford, Illinois to produce the hydraulic pumps. The company produced the oil burner 

Reagan 3 

pumps for forty-five years before selling that part of the business ( "A History... 
;HamiltonSundtsrandOnline ). 

During World War Two, the companies' expertise in hydraulics led to the 
invention of the constant speed drive for the aircraft industry. The constant speed drive is 
a transmission that takes the varying speed of the aircraft engine and produces a constant 
output speed for an alternating current generator. Military contracts awarded during the 
war gave the company expertise in dealing with government contracts, adding more 
business diversity to their sales base ("A Special "). By 1959 the company comprised of 
three divisions; Machine Tool, Hydraulics, and Aviation and shareholders voted to 
change the company name to Sundstrand Corporation ( "A History..." ). 

On May 1 6, 1 966 groundbreaking ceremonies began on a new factory in 
Rockford, Illinois. It was a plant that was futuristic in its design and construction ( 
"Ground Broken...";"Sundstrand To..." ). The eighty-eight acre complex was on the 
outskirts of Rockford at the time of construction. Starsky cemetery, on the corner of 
Harrison Avenue and Alpine Road, dates back to the year 1855 and still remains as the 
only unchanged part of the area formerly owned by Beverly J. Baker, before the former 
Sundstrand Machine Tool Company purchased the land May 18,1959 ( Winnebago ). 
Built to house the company's expanding military and commercial aircraft parts 
business, under the direction of company president Bruce Olson, son of Hugo Olson one 
of the company founders ( "A History. . ." ). During a turbulent time in history when four 
hundred thousand U.S. troops were serving in the Vietnam War, the planned expansion 

Reagan 4 

was not the top news story locally that it probably would be today ( Carruth ). According 
to Rowland Adrian, the plant engineer, the original plan called for a monument of either a 
missile or military jet aircraft to be on display in front of the building ( "Sundstrand 
To..." ). Plans changed during construction, possibly due to a growing opposition to the 
war and public resentment of anyone profiting from it, a fountain was built instead. The 
more practical fountain also served as a cooling source for machinery inside the factory. 
A track, resembling a racetrack, was constructed behind the facility to test hydrostatic 
transmissions being developed for use in military equipment and commercial trucks ( " 
New Plant..."). 

The plant was voted one of the top ten, in the 35 annual award for manufacturing 
facilities in 1968, by Modern Manufacturing Magazine of McGraw Hill Publishing ( 
"Sundstrand Wins..." ; "Sundstrand Plant..." ; "New Plant..."). 

Beauty, utility and special facilities for employees were some of the reasons the 
plant was cited for the award. A physical fitness center complete with basketball, 
racquetball and squash courts provides employees with a good workout. A locker room 
with shower and sauna was provided as well. Onsite classrooms from the University of 
Illinois give employees the opportunity to further their education. Modern Manufacturing 
Magazine also considered good lighting, security systems, waste management and 
provision for expansion as other contributing factors for the award. Laverne Mousel, a 
plant supervisor, recalled a sense of pride in the facility when the plant site initially 

Reagan 5 

opened. This plant stands as one example of the forward thinking the company has tried 
to pursue. 

Growth through acquisition and broadening product line in specific business 
sectors fueled company expansion for the past forty years. After divesting itself of the 
machine tool and oil burner pump business in the late '70s, the company began focusing 
on product development and market diversification ( "A History" ). The constant speed 
drive evolved into the integrated drive generator, an indisputably reliable power source. 
The product line began to expand immensely. This was necessary as fewer aircraft were 
being produced. Rather than producing a single product for forty different aircraft 
models, they began producing many different components for a single model aircraft. The 
components gave way to entire systems design. For example, the product content on a 
single aircraft may include an integrated drive generator, current transformer assembly, 
generator control unit, buss control unit, auxiliary generator, relay contactor, emergency 
ram air turbine, gearbox assembly, cooling fan assembly, wing flap actuators, hydraulic 
start motors, and fuel pumps just to mention a few. Most of the products discussed to this 
point apply to the aircraft industry, but the company is also comprised of other business 

The company also manufactures hydrostatic transmissions for many land based 
vehicles, torpedo engines for Marconi Underwater Systems, rotary screw air and gas 
compressors, metering pumps and analytical instruments, auxiliary power units for the 

Reagan 6 

space shuttle, and huge gear drives and couplings for the mining industry produced by 
Falk in Milwaukee ( "A History" ). The list is lengthy but incomplete; it is an attempt to 
show the vast product line of which the company is comprised. 

In 1 999 Sundstrand Corporation began a new chapter after merging with 
Hamilton Standard, a United Technologies Corporation. After trying to purchase 
Hamilton Standard from United Technologies Corporation, Sundstrand directors were 
convinced to merge with the larger corporation. The merging of large companies is 
common today, but seldom advantageous for the employees. Many jobs have already 
been eliminated. In an informational meeting with employees, shortly after announcing 
the sale of the company, Ron McKenna, a company vice president, said " the merger 
would provide more opportunities for employees ". Employees were also told " it was 
the board of directors' duty to bring all serious offers to buy the company before the 
shareholders for consideration ". 

United Technologies Corporation is a very diverse company comprised of Otis 
Elevator, Pratt Whitney, Carrier and Hamilton Sundstrand. It does appear that Sundstrand 
Corporation was a "good fit "as stated by Ron McKenna at the time of the merger. 
Similar business strategies, synergic products and common customers will make it easier 
for the companies to combine. In Rockford, Illinois the senior employees are feeling like 
a parent that just sent a child off to college, with the uncertainty of what the future holds 
for them in the final outcome. Working for Rockford based Sundstrand was like being in 
the hometown bleachers at a high-school sporting event, basking in hometown pride. 

Reagan 7 

Without diversity Sundstrand probably would have closed its doors long ago. It has been 
a long time since anyone needed a 1 0-key adding machine. 

Reagan 8 
Works Cited 
Carruth, Gorton. What Happened When . Copyright 1989 Penguin Books USA Inc. 375 

Hudson St. New York, New York 10014. Pages 955-967 
"Ground Broken For Sundstrand Research Center". Rockford Morning Star. May 

17,1966 Page Bl. 
"A History of the Company". Sundstrand Corporation. Company Library. 
Mousel, LaVerne. Telephone interview. November 14, 2000. 
"New Plant Uses New Ideas". Rockford Register Republic . August 22, 1966. 
"Nobody Has Gear Like Sundstrand". Rockford Register Republic. August 24,1966. 
"Output of Oil Burner Pushed By Sundstrand". Rockford Register Star. 1930. 
Reagan, Randall. Hamilton Sundstrand Electrician. December 4, 2000. 
"A Special Tolerance". Forbes Magazine . March 15, 1959. 
"Sundstrand Building Project Is Only Part of Long-Range Plan". Rockford Register 

Republic. August 22,1966. 
"Sundstrand Plant Among Top 10 Built in 1968". Rockford Register Star. May 1,1969. 
"Sundstrand Still Creating". Rockford Register Star .November 30,1969. 
"Sundstrand To Construct Complex Here". Rockford Morning Star. May 8,1966. Page 

"Sundstrand Wins Top Award". Rockford Register Republic. June 4,1969. 

Reagan 9 

Winnebago county records office. Trustee's Deed. 404 Elm St. Rockford, Illinois. Deed 
book 1088 Page 488. 

**& - 

Tinker Swiss Cottage. 

The Historical Facts Of The 

"Humble Cottage" 


Sherry Gatchel 

30 November 2000 

Rock Valley College 



Sherry Gatchel 
English 101 NDF2 
30 November 2000 

Tinker Swiss Cottage: 

The Historical Facts Of The 

"Humble Cottage" 

Tinker Swiss Cottage has been the sole owner of the limestone bluff overlooking 
Kent Creek at 41 1 Kent Street since 1865. Some rumors say that a gristmill used to 
reside at this site, but it is possible the mill had its roots farther up the creek. There have 
never been any historical documents to confirm or deny this rumor (Oberg). As Joe Fong 
said, "Tinker Swiss Cottage stands out like a burst of sunshine in a the city's cultural 

Robert Tinker was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 31, 1836 to Reben and 
Mary Tinker. In 1856, at the age of 19, Robert came to Rockford, Illinois to work as a 
bookkeeper for the widow, Mary, of the late John H. Manny of the Manny Reaper 
Manufacturing Company (Jenson). As Tinker became familiar with the area, he had 
visions of building his "humble cabin" across the creek from his workplace (Tinker). 

During this time in Rockford' s history, the John Manny Manufacturing Company 
was just completing a patent lawsuit with the McCormick Reaper Company. This win 
was a major triumph for John Manny and his invention of the mower-reaper combine 
unit. The sad ending to the suit was John Manny passed away shortly after the trials were 
over, leaving his wife a wealthy widow (Oberg). 

Robert Tinker befriended the minister from Rockford's Court Street Methodist 
Church, John H. Vincent, in 1861. The two of them took their first journey together for 
six months to Europe. They departed from New York for Europe on July 5th, 1862, on 


the Glasgow sailing vessel. Tinker convinced Vincent to travel in steerage class; Vincent, 
being used to better accommodations, was not happy about this, therefore, both men 
spent much of their time on deck (Ravitts, Summer 1998). 

While Tinker was dreaming of his cottage in Rockford, the rest of the world was 
involved in the Civil War. In this war, the North and South battled over the morals and 
ethics of slavery; the war finally ended in 1865 (Compton's). This slavery issue led to 
another crisis, the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson. Tinker's awareness of this was 
shown when he entered, "March 23, 1868 Impeachment trials begin" in his journal. 
This adventure for Tinker was to collect information about the Swiss 
chalet that he wanted to build. While on the journey, he drew detailed sketches of sights 
that interested him. Some of these were Dunluce Castle in Ireland, the Bay of Alexandria 
of Egypt, Mt. Strombolia, Sicili, Wellington Monument of Gibraltar, and, in Scotland, the 
cottage where Robert Burns became a Freemason (Tinker). These are just a few sights he 
enjoyed, however Tinker's main fascinations were the Swiss chalets. 

As both men returned to Rockford, they brought home treasured memories and 
goals. Tinker, more than before, longed to build his Swiss chalet (Jenson). The two 
gentlemen often spent the afternoon having tea and conversation, or spending the night at 
each other's homes. After Vincent moved to Chautauqua, Tennessee, Tinker visited him 
frequently. Their friendship may have grown so deeply, because Vincent reminded 
Tinker of his father, whom he lost when he was only 17 (Ravitts, Summer 1998). 

Tinker knew the site at 41 1 Kent Street was the ideal setting for his chalet. The 
towering limestone bluff across from Mary Manny's mansion was the "picturesque site" 
(Jenson). Tinker also knew the lumber would be easy to access from the shores of the 



Pecatonica River (Jenson). 

On November 19, 1863, Tinker purchased the first parcel of property for $1,600 
(Tinker). This was block 9 that bound Kent Street on the south and Kent Creek on the 
north. He then bought more property on March 24, 1864 for $400, and again on October 
8, 1864, for $500 (Winnebago). Tinker purchased more land for a total of 23 acres 
before he started to build his chalet (Jenson). 

Tinker, a well-traveled man, inspired by the Swiss architecture, remembered the 
Swiss architect that told him to "build a house that would give Rockford a name" ( Tinker 
Swiss Cottage ). He then contacted George Bradley, an architect from Rockford, to draw 
the plans for his European design chalet (Tinker; Jenson). 

Tinker's foresight and respect for the presence of a Native American mound on 
his property was a factor in the placement of the building sites. The conical mound, a 
half-sphere shape, which was common in the Midwest, was built between 500 B.C. and 
A.D. 1500. Different theories for building the mounds include religious and ceremonial 
reasons. Some say it is a way of mapping travels, and other believe they measure 
astronomy and seasons (Van Pernis). 

In 1865, Tinker began building the cottage he had longed for. The "cabin" was 
built in sections. Starting with the kitchen, the red room, which was a bedroom above the 
kitchen, the back stairs, and the hallway. By the spring of 1866, Tinker planted more than 
50 trees on the property, some of which were maple, ash, elm, and fruit. By mid-year of 
1867, he began construction on the main part of the cottage. He entered in his journal, on 
May 8, "the masons began work on the basement and cistern." As the year progressed, 
so did the cottage. By December 28, Tinker and Anderson, his hired hand he spoke 


highly of in his journals, "finished staining the cottage." The winter of 1868 did not allow 
work outside, so many tasks, such as staining of the cupboards, adding a gas stove, and 
finishing plumbing for the new bathtub were done. 

By September 28, "George Bradley, the architect, began work on the rest of the 
cottage" (Tinker). This was the final stage to make the cottage a whole unit. In October 
1868, Tinker began building a suspension bridge to cross Kent Creek from the cottage to 
the mansion. He remembered his walks across the Roebling's suspension bridge at 
Niagara Falls. Bachelder quoted he "examined the bridge (to his) hearts content", and 
began creating his own bridge across Kent Creek. Tinker entered in his journal able to 
"throw the bridge over the creek" on March 20, 1870. 

On April 24, 1870, Robert Tinker and Mary Manny were married. After the 
marriage, the cottage served as their winter home while Mary's mansion on the other side 
of Kent Creek served as their summer home. Both homes were seldom unoccupied, as 
Mary's sister, Hannah Dorr, and the two sisters' nieces, Jesse and Marcia Dorr, came to 
live with them (Jenson; Tinker). 

Tinker's journal entries explain his focus by September 29, 1873 was on the 
three-story Swiss barn. "Began digging cellar of barn at cottage." The month was devoted 
to the construction of the barn as he entered November 27, "finished barn". By mid 1878, 
he had completed the fence at the barn to allow for a herd of brown Swiss cows to graze 

By 1882, Tinker convinced the Illinois Central Railroad to bring their tracks 
through Rockford, rather than the planned ten miles south of Rockford; this was of more 
financial benefit for Tinker's city. This arrangement enabled Tinker to sell parcels of 


Mary's mansion property for the tracks (Jensen; Orput 28). Consequently, this began the 
ongoing project of the greenhouse. Tinker described in his journal on September 1, 1882, 
"Began foundation for greenhouse at cottage." By November 9, he had "finished exterior 
of new greenhouse." By November 21, "Ennett put cement floor in greenhouse" and on 
November 29, they "finished piping greenhouse." On December 4, "Blair induced to stay 
+ build rock work in greenhouse" (Tinker). Tinker built this greenhouse, also known as 
the conservatory, for his wife when the cottage became their year-round home. It was a 
working greenhouse because they used it for garden vegetables and flower garden plants, 
both for private and for commercial purposes (Fong ). The greenhouse was also home to 
many pieces of Tinker's wonderful root furniture that was at the mansion. His root 
furniture ideas came from homes in Switzerland. He has several other pieces placed 
through out the cottage (Orput 30). 

One of the first to apply for electricity, Tinker brought power to the cottage in 
stages. The earliest was in 1883, and the next wiring was done on the second floor 
between 1910 and 1920 (Jenson). The library's upper level was wired in 1930, and by the 
1950s the dressing rooms and lower levels were fully supplied with electricity (Oberg). 

On June 13, 1890, a flood washed out Tinker's suspension bridge while he was 
out of town on a business trip. He began immediately to rebuild his bridge, and this task 
preoccupied Tinker until May 16, 1891 when he stated in his journal, "Finished 
suspending wood work on suspension bridge" (Bachelder). 

Tinker's life took a turn on March 3, 1900, as he entered in his journal, "Fell 
under freight-car near water tank 111. Cr. Ry bet 11+12 ock + had left foot crushed 
Hurried to hospital foot taken above ankle by Dr. Fitch." Tinker suffered from 


rheumatism after his accident, so many trips were taken to Mudlavia, a spa near Attica, 
Indiana, for mud baths and mineral water (Ravitts, Summer 2000). Vance Barrie said, 
"some rumors went around after the accident that Tinker, being such a creative man, 
made a cane handle from the bone of his foot that was removed", though this has never 
been confirmed (Oberg). 

Several interior pieces from the mansion started making their way over to the 
cottage during early 1900. The train vibrations were very hard on the mansion, both 
structurally and aesthetically, and Tinker knew the Illinois Central Railway was planning 
to expand. He entered in his journal November 22, 1900, "put gilt arch from brick house 
over sitting room window (1865).'" The brick house refers to the mansion. Tinker then 
sold the mortgage on the mansion to Mayor Ed Brown, a worker for the Illinois Central, 
who had wished to expand the railway in the later part of 1900 (Jenson). 

Mary Dorr Manny Tinker passed away on September 4, 1901, leaving Tinker a 
widower. Mary's funeral took place in the parlor, the most public room of the cottage. A 
tribute given at her funeral service characterized her as a "genial hostess, a prominent and 
public-spirited Christian women kindly friend and helper of the poor and needy" 

Shortly after the death of Mary Tinker, her sister Marcia died on January 5, 1904. 
This left the cottage with only Robert and Jesse as companions. Life continued around 
the cottage and three years had passed, until the parlor saw a festive event. On March 14, 
1904, Robert Tinker wed Jesse. Many people in the community believed this was a 
marriage of convenience because they had lived together so long. By August 22, 1908, 
they adopted a seven-week-old baby boy, Theodore Tinker, and brought him home from 


Bloomington-Normal. At the age of 68, Tinker became a father for the time (Tinker; 
Oberg; Jenson). 

Construction on the cottage seemed to be an on going project. Rebuilding of the 
greenhouse started on July 17, 1908. Radiant hot water came to the cottage between 1900 
and 1910. In July of 1912, the sleeping porch and garage were added to the west side of 
the cottage. The boilers used coal until the mid 1950s, when it was converted to oil, and 
later converted to natural gas (Jenson; Tinker; Oberg). 

Tinker's years of volunteering within the community seemed to be never-ending, 
especially his involvement with the Rockford Park District. Civic-minded, he served as a 
trustee for Greenwood cemetery. "Self-reliant, self-made citizen of the highest type" is 
what his peers called him (Jenson). The year he was elected mayor of Rockford, he 
received only $150 and his councilmen each received $100 for their roles within the city 
government. They served, as Tinker stated in his inaugural address, "not for thanks or 
emoluments, . . .but because people having confidence in your integrity and judgment 
asked you to do so." Tinker and his councilmen's real pay was the success they felt while 
advancing the village closer to becoming a city. This was shown by the installation of a 
modern water supply and the reorganization of the fire department (Ravitts, Spring 1995). 

By the spring of 1924, Tinker's health was failing, and he could see his years of 
volunteering coming to end. Robert Tinker departed from this world, in the Parlor, on 
December 31, 1924, in the arms of his 17-year-old-son, Theodore, who had been called 
home from military school to be with his father (Carlson). Ironically, Robert Tinker had 
also lost his father when he was only 17. Once again, the Parlor was the center of 
activities around the cottage, due to the funeral being held there. 


Tinker's obituary was a tribute to his volunteerism: "It may be said in perfect 
truth that no citizen of Rockford ever did more to advance the welfare and importance of 
the city he loved and which loved him, than Robert Tinker. A useful man has gone to a 
well-merited rest. His memories will long endure for his unselfish benefactions" (Ravitts, 
Fall 1995). 

After Tinker's death, Jesse realized the historic value of the humble Swiss 
cottage. In 1926, she transferred the real estate to the Rockford Park District. Her 
arrangements with the commissioners of the park district were that they pay her $1,800 
which was to be paid in monthly installments of $150 ("Park"). By 1938, Jesse continued 
to live in the cottage, and she had decided to donate the contents of the cottage, which 
included all personal belongings. She knew that this would make the contribution of the 
cottage an historic showplace for the Rockford area (Oberg). At the time of Jesse's death, 
on March 31, 1942, the cottage was in a very distressed state, holding much work ahead 
for the Rockford Park District, who assumed the ownership (Jenson; Oberg). 

The extensive repairs that were needed on the cottage were a concern because of 
the amount of money that it was going to take to restore. There was discussion that they 
should just tear down the once "humble cottage". At this, the community stepped in and 
formed a "Save Tinker Cottage Committee," which included Mayor Henry C. Bloom. 
They were successful in saving the "historic gem" (Jenson). 

The cottage was opened to the public in 1943. Betty Grubbs, a volunteer said, 
"They used to sit with a cigar box taking money at the door for the tour." Rebuilding 
could not be done as readily as the cottage trustees committee members would have 
liked, but they continued to do small repairs as the public began to view the cottage 



In 1958, vandalism caused the tragic ending to the three-story Swiss barn, which 
was filled with antiques from the cottage. The fire was believed to have started due to 
carelessness with cigarettes ("Tinker Swiss"). There were no funds available to rebuild 
the barn at the time (Jenson). 

Minor repairs of re-plastering, painting, and stenciling were done to the cottage, 
along with carpeting of the stairs and upstairs hallway (Oberg). The museum's trustees 
concentrated their efforts in 1981, working on grants and federal aid for the cottage, 
along with the Rockford Park District moneys to help restoration projects (Jenson). 

A painting restoration firm that was hired to do some work on some of the 
ceilings, floor, and walls was able to renew a hidden decorative design that was created 
by a nameless Italian fresco painter. Tinker had mentioned this in one of his journal 
entrees (Jenson). Laura Bachelder, Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum curator stated, "I think 
it is unusual that we have 75 years worth of diaries intact and available. The entries aren't 
long, but he was remarkably consistent over his life-time in having continued to keep 
them." In the early part of 1983, Kurt Bell was asked to do restoration on the kitchen to 
restore it to the original appearance of the Victorian era. Such things as a dry sink, pot- 
bellied stove, and a braided rug were replaced (Handlin). 

Kurt Bell was called upon again in November of 1983 for the reconstruction of 
the greenhouse. He and his assistant David Van Pernis spent many hours studying 
photographs of the cottage before beginning the project (Handlin). In 1984, the north 
bedroom floor needed reinforcing. Some people say this was due to the large number of 
visitors each year (Oberg). 


The Army Corps of Engineers did cleaning of the north bank of Kent Creek 
between 1987 and 1988. Purchasing and installation of UV filters for the windows to 
protect the belongings in the cottage was also done in 1988. Reconstruction of the 
Carriage House allowed room for an office in the Red Room in 1990. The garage and 
Sleeping Porch had to be dismantled around the same time (Oberg). 

Painting of the exterior to reflect the 1893 era was done between 1992 and 1994. 
During 1993 and 1994, the balcony railings on the north, east, and south sides were 
reconstructed. Again, the cottage wiring was replaced in 1996. By October 1996 through 
1997, the asphalt roof was replaced with cedar shake roof and copper gutters and cresting 

The original project for rebuilding Tinker Barn was kicked off in the summer of 
1995. As the next two years passed, there was much anticipation on when the 
construction could begin on the barn ("Tinker Swiss Launches"). Many community 
fundraisers were formed, in hopes to get the project off the ground. One of them being 
"You can bank on Tinker", which was a fundraising effort which allowed school teachers 
of area fourth grade classes to return a bank with $60 which would permit their school's 
class name to be cut in a limestone "recognition wall" of the bam. This would create a 
sense of ownership when the children could point at their class's name during visits 
(Scharf, Summer 1996). 

Ironically, during this time, a large limestone building on south Main Street was 
at the verge of meeting the wrecking crew. Architect Gary Anderson and the Museum 
Curator, Kris Anderson, were brought to the attention of the old beams that could be 
purchased and re-milled for the new Tinker barn. Although the beams would need to be 


stored, they decided the recycling of these beams would bring a historical value from the 
same time period back to Tinker. Kris then discovered there was a connection between 
the old building and Tinker. Robert's first wife Mary Manny sold her shares of Manny 
Reaper Company to the Emerson and Brantingham Co., who owned the building being 
demolished (Scharf, Fall 1996). 

Early in 1998, the rebuilding of the Swiss Barn started. R&B Enterprises 
constructed a replica of the original barn. They used a mortise and tenon construction 
technique, which was authentic to the 19 th century. It is now the fall of 2000, and things 
are drawing to an end on the major project. The barn will serve as a space for a gift shop, 
archival-storage, and apartment for the on-site staff of the cottage. It also will be able to 
accommodate a group of 50 people, such as an educational group. The dream that started 
in the 1970s is a reality today in 2000 ("Why Build a Barn"). 

Rebuilding of the suspension bridge is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2001. 
This project has been put on hold for many years until the funding became available. 
Sherry Gatchel said, "I am looking forward to the reconstruction of the bridge." When the 
bridge had to be taken down because of safety reasons in 1976, many people missed 
seeing it. The bridge was like, "Tinker's unique creative personality still standing along 
with his sole which was the cottage," said Betsey McCoy. 

Rockford's own Mayor Charles Box called the museum a "gem in the southwest 
quadrant" and expects the improvements will draw more people to the area. He said, 
"Buildings like this are the things I travel around the world to see, museums and such, 
and we have one right here in Rockford." Through Tinker Cottage's many developments 
and changes, it has truly become the historical landmark, which accomplished Tinker's 


goal "to give his hometown a name." This landmark stands as proud today as it did some 
150 years ago. 


Sherry Gatchel 

101 English 

30 November 2000 

Works Cited 

Bachelder, Laura M. "Step into Christmases Past". The Register Star . 5 December 1997. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
— . "Tinkering with Bridges." Tinker Topics . Autumn 1997. Tinker 

Barrie, Vance. Class Lecture. September 2000. Historian. Rockford Park District. 
Carlson, Leona. "Tinker's Son Recalls Life at the Cottage." The Register Star . 4 June 

1981. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Compton Encyclopedia. 1970. 
Fong, Joe. "Tinker: Burst of Sunshine." The Register Star . 8 September 1980. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Grubbs, Betty. Personal Interview. 22 September 2000. 
Handlin, Betty. "Tinker Restoration Swiss Cottage's Conservatory to Have New Look by 

Spring." The Register Star . 17 November 1983. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 
Jenson, Marguerite D. July- August 1984. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
McCoy, Betsey. Personal Interview. 10 November 2000. 
Mortesen, Arden W. Tinker Swiss Cottage. Rockford, IL: Tinker Swiss Cottage 

Oberg, David. Personal Interview. 1 8 September 2000. Tinker Swiss Cottage Historian. 
Orput, Mrs. Raymond. Rockford Tinker Cottage Swiss Chalet . Rockford, IL: Creative 


Printed Crafts. 
"Park Board Buys Tinker Cottage." The Register Star. 22 July 1926. Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 
Rajer, Anton. "Cottage Murals Restored.' 1 Tinker Topics . 6 May 1991. Vertical Files 53. 

Rock Valley College. 
Ravitts, Gail S. "John Heyl Vincent's Tinker's Traveling Companion and Life-Long 

Friend." Tinker Topics . Summer 1998. Tinker Cottage Museum. 
Ravitts, Gail. "Taking The Waters." Tinker Topics . Summer 2000. Tinker Cottage 

Ravitts, Gail. "The Boy Mayor of Rockford." Tinker Topics . Spring 1995. Tinker 

Cottage Museum. 
Ravitts, Gail. "Volunteer: Robert Tinker's Greatest Volunteer Efforts." Tinker Topics . 

Fall 1995. Tinker Swiss Museum. 
Scharf, Jon. "What Was Old, Is New Again." Tinker Topics . Fall 1996. Barrie Vance. 
Scharf, Jon. "You Can Bank On Tinker." Tinker Topics . Summer 1996. Tinker Swiss 

"Tinker House Now Listed as Historic." The Register Star . 10 January 1973. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Tinker, Robert. Personal Journals. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. 
"Tinker Swiss Barn Burns Down." The Register Star . 15 May 1958. Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum . Pamphlet. No Date. 
"Tinker Swiss Launches Plans For Expansion." The Register Star. 2 March 1995. 


Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 
Van Pernis, David. "Ancient Native American Mounds at Tinker Swiss Cottage." Tinker 

Topics 53. 1989. Vertical Files. Rock Valley College Library. 
"Why Build A Barn." Tinker Topics . Summer 1995. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. 
Winnebago County Recorders Office. 420 West State Street. Rockford, IL. 

^^j s agy ^farfgg^gS^ £j>-r^>*-i<«vx 

jo Frederick 
,L. Frederick 

c3/ 8 - 79,5 

State of Wisconsin 1 


THIS INDENTURE, Made this. 32nd day v of Jum-A.D. 1525, between Jessie DjL.. Tinker a 
widow, of the City of Rockford County of Winnebago and State of Illinois, party of the 
first part and Rockford park District of the City of Rockford County of Winnebago and 

State of Illinois, party of the second part, 

ffitnssset.h, That the 3 , party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of 
(51. CO etc.) One dollar and other good and valuable considerations to her in hand paid, the 
receipt whereof iG hereby acknowledged, has granted, bargained, sold conveyed and confirmed, 
and does hereby grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm unto the 3aid party of the second 

part and to its assigns forever, the following described lands and premises, to-wit: 

Commencing at the South tfest corner of Block 5 of Church ce Robertson's Addition to. 
_the City' of Rockford, and running thence Northeasterly on the Westerly line of -said Block, 
3C6'..65_f eet to; the : Southwesterly^ cor ner of act. sold by Rob. H., -.Tinker to George 
:Sp*ngl9r_ by. Warranty; Deed- dated Mey 31 s _lS9_7i ..and ^recorded in Book 159 of Deeds -on page 
.;1.42l. J-V- the Rep order ' _s_ Off ice at Rockford, Illinois^:. Thence at -"right angles with the 
_3.oate.rly.4iaa.of .3aid Flock. 5,_a_ distance o^^^^A^i^M^J^^^j^^sttily' at right angles 
kifch,j>recaedlng. course 50 feet,. .thence northwesterly. .at right t anglea with _the._preceeaing. . 
.oourso -125 feet. to-:tho- -joint, of. inter section, of .the aasteriyJline: o£_said..Blockl5; .w^ith Xhs 


:_i : .'.•*:'■ h •■• ■ ■■-■'■■'"■'■--■ ■•■■-■• 

J/6 - 





right angles srita ths pracesdlng course and, parallel with the ajsterly line of piocV 5, 
239-25 feat to tha southnrly eight of way line of the I.C.R.R.; thance southeasterly on oaid 
right of ^ay 11ns 235 feet ?>ore or leas to a £ u Iron pin at the Sonta 2aet corner of Lot 2 in 
eaid Block 5, thonc© Southeasterly an said right of way lina at sn Vngla »f 69 degrees 10' 
with ths aaaterly lia« sf Lot 1 in Block 5, c"C0 faat aor-s or lasa to tfea base of tho bluff 
on the southarly bani of Knot's Craek, thence northwesterly along tho ba30 of said bluff to 
its intarsectloa with taa westerly line of the property of the Hslson Knitting Co., conveyed 
to 3aid Knitting Co., by Robert H. Jinks? and Jes3ia 3. Tinker, his wife, by warranty deed dated 
Aug. 12, 1320, and recorded In 3oole 276 of Deads, en page 7, in ths Hoarder's Office at Sock- 
ford, Illinois-, thoaee southwesterly on said property lino 52.1 foot more or I033 to an iron 
pin on the top of said bluff, thence northwesterly 46 fast to a cast ironhitching post at the 
South Treat corner gf the suspension foot bridgo over Kent's Cree!t v thence southerly at an angle 
of 36 degrees 38' 20° with the preceding course.. 9*7.8 fast to an iron pin, thenco deflecting 
southeasterly by 11 degrees .15' from the preceding course 154.35 fast to a point on th^ easter- 
ly lino of the alloy in Block 5 of Church ± Robe^'tigi's Addition 153,25 feet northerly from tha 
South Una cf 3aid Block 3, thence northerly on said easterly alley line 103.31 fact, thence 
northwesterly 03 the. northerly line of ssid allay 180 foet more cr less to an iron pin, thenca 
northwesterly 78 f*ot mora or less to a 3/4'- iron pin v»ths southeast erly corner of B,loci 5 
of Church !c Robertson's Addition, and th?ncc wastarly on the southerly line o~f said Bloci: 
348.95 foet to the point of beginning, containing 5.5332 acres. 

(Subjoct, hesovar, to all loga.". highrrrys upon or icrcss said premises ,) situate in tb* 
City of Rockford, County of Tfinnsbago, State of Illinois: Hereby releasing and waiving all 
rights under and by virtue of the Homestead Exemption Laws of this State. 

To Eave and to Hold the Saaio , with the appurtenances, unto the said party of the 3econd 
part, and its assigns forever. 

And tho said party of the first part, for har3alf and herheirs, assentors and adminis- 
trators doas covenant and agree to and with the said party of tha second part, and it3 Assigns, 
that 3hs is vail soiaad of the premise;: above convoy-)d, &-C of a good and- indof easablo inheritance 
in ths law in fso sispla and that tho 3iid -resii3es aro clear of all lietia, taxesj assessments 
ird inctUBbrancaa -»hat,3oavur , and of all tans and assessments for the present and pastyears, 
and tha*. aha Trill forsvsr warrant and defend tha 3am9 . 

In STitaaaa "fhnroof , ths said party si the first part has hereunto sot her hand and seal 

Sxaoutod in Praoance of ' Joasis D. Tinksr [Ssal) 

3. J. Knight 
Carl X, Swsnaon. 

State tjf Illinois, ) 

js . 
'.Vinnobagc County. ) . 

I, LmlSQ U. SasWood, a Sotasy Public i- and for said County, in the State aforesaid, Do 
Hereby Certify , .that Jessie D. .Tinker, a widow, personally known to me to ba.the saaw.parson, 
*hosa na=o is subscribed to tha foregoing instr^ont, appeared, before =9 this day in.parson. 
., -d .„;._....',..-,„ »),,;•* ,-•,, oiaaffd .sealed and dalivondi'tho aaid instrument as her ft?o« and vol* 
*3tayy act, r«? tha H303 ind purposes therein sat forth, including tho ralaasa nnd waive- of 
tho right of hoaastoad. 

Gl7^n undar :=y hanc and Notarial Seal, this 22nd day of June .A-. D. ,iS38... 

VLouisa ; U.2astwood :.. ,\ v 

...\ .Sot*ry.-Piblla^ A... . 

\ ' ' • ' ' ■ \ 

Louiao. M^.Eastwood. .._... 

„•._ .5o.tury. Public . . 

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Kitchen In the Tinker Swiss Cottage. 

Souvenirs of travel - including an Italian painting of 
the Madonna - grace the parlor, a room used for the 
most formal entertaining . 

The Swiss - inspired design of the master 
bedroom conveys the sense of a rustic 
European home. 

A walnut-veneered spiral staircase connects the 
main floor and the balcony of the octagonal 

The Rockford Municipal Sanitarium/ UIC School of Medicine 

Aaron Utley 
4 December 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Page / of 9 

Aaron Utley 
English 101 DR1 
4 December 2000 

The Rockford Municipal Sanitarium/ UIC School of Medicine 

The building at 1601 Parkview Avenue in Rockford, Illinois has survived 
many changes. One thing that has not changed in the last eighty-five years is 
the quality of medical care offered at the site. 

In the early 1900's there was a huge health scare. Hundreds of people 
were being diagnosed with early signs of Tuberculosis, also called the White 
Plague. No one was sure how this epidemic started, but they knew it was 
highly contagious, and being spread through the air. Due to the rapid spread 
of this disease, the Rockford Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium was proposed 
to help people deal with this epidemic. 

The first concern was to find land to build on. The trustees, appointed 
by Mayor W. W. Bennett, found a fifteen-acre tract north of Sinnissippi Park. 
This spot of land was previously known as the Angstrand Tract. They soon 
purchased this spot of land for $6,545.00 ("New Sanitarium for Tuberculosis 
Sufferers Open"). 

After deciding on the Angstrand Tract, they soon pulled together and 
started construction. The sanitarium was opened on the first day of January 
1916. Due to inclimate weather, few people were able to make it to the 
opening. In 1916, getting across town was like getting across the state today. 
There was a formal opening held in the spring that year. 

Page 2 of 9 

The sanatorium building was a three-story structure with a basement. 
There were sleeping porches at one end of the first and second floors, to be 
used by the patients. There were laboratories, baths, examination rooms and 
rooms for those in more advanced stages of the disease. The nurses' quarters, 
with baths were at the opposite end of the building. A dining room, quarters 
for the superintendent, and offices were also on these first two floors. The 
maids and cook occupied the third floor. There were also two large storage 
rooms and two large fire protection tanks on the third floor. In the basement 
were the engineer's quarters, along with the laundry and a room for the 
manufacture of gas from gasoline for cooking ("New Sanitarium Ready to Treat 

The sanatorium was built of interlocking tile, and faced with brick. 
There was an entrance porch of fluted columns. The structure has its own 
water system, with a 450-foot deep well, and a modern sewage disposal plant. 
The interior is in fumed oak and mahogany ("New Sanitarium Ready to Treat 

The site and building cost was approximately $25,000.00, and the 
institution was to be supported by general taxation ("New Sanitarium Ready to 
Treat Sufferers"). 

Because of the worldwide Tuberculosis scare, this institution was a 
necessity to keep people from panicking, and keep them calm. People 
everywhere were frightened. Tuberculosis was becoming a major threat to the 

Page 3 of 9 

people in the Rockford area. The sanitarium provided a place to separate those 
infected or at risk of being infected from the rest of the population, house and 
feed them, and hope for their recovery. 

The Rockford Municipal Sanitarium was the first publicly funded facility 
in the state outside of Chicago. The design plans were drawn for a three-story 
building that was to measure 39' by 71' (Turpoff). 

There were many people involved in the development of the Rockford 
Municipal Sanitarium. Dr. R. H. Harned was the first to show interest in the 
project, and then more began to rally, and supported the project financially. 
Mayor W. W. Bennett of Rockford appointed trustees to find the land and 
appoint an architect. Frank A. Carpenter was the first of a group of Architects. 
Mr. Carpenter submitted plans that were revised by a committee of experts 
from Chicago headed by Dr. Theodore Sachs. He was the president of the 
Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. After getting the revised plans 
back, William D. Reichenbach was chosen to be the General Contractor. Other 
companies involved were Swords Brothers for plumbing and sewage disposal, 
Harmon and Nicholas for heating, Ellis Electric Company for supplying 
electrical work, Carrico Stone to put in the roadway, and International Stem 
Pump Company to install the water system ("New Sanitarium Ready to Treat 

The sanitarium got its name from a dying youth. The suggestion, the 
Rockford Municipal Tuberculosis Sanatorium, was sent to the Register 

Page 4 of 9 

Republic on the morning of Dec. 27 th , signed "One who hopes to be there". Two 
days later, this young man, Harold Stanley Cotta, died from the White Plague. 
("A Dying Youth Has Named It — Rockford Municipal Sanatorium"). 

The sanitarium was completed on January 1, 1916. At that time there 
were one hundred seventy-five people signed up for treatment, but there were 
only eighteen beds. The trustees accepted seven patients. The first patient 
was Albert Leonard Blixt, the father of three small children ("New Sanitarium 
for Tuberculosis Sufferers Open"). 

In 1914 there were two hundred forty- three cases of children who were 
found to be below par physically, and distinctly showing early signs of pre- 
tuberculosis. Later in 1914, eleven of these children had developed the 
disease, and at least two of the eleven died. During this time people were very 
concerned with their children's safety in the public schools. Physicians 
thought the schools were dangerous because kids were sharing pencils and 
books, and drinking out of the fountains. They were in close contact during 
activities, and in the classrooms. These concerns were shared with the board 
of trustees at the sanitarium. 

In September of 1916, the board of trustees of the Rockford Public 
Tuberculosis Sanitarium met to complete plans for the erection of an open-air 
school. This building was constructed on the property and could accommodate 
about forty pupils. ("Open Air School for Children is now a Certainty"). 

The open- air school would be conducted similar to the public schools. 
The hours would be the same, but activities would be different. The students 

Page 5 of 9 

would be given a bowl of soup in the morning and at noon, then were 
encouraged to sleep for an hour. The school would also be conducted in the 
open air. During the winter months, the students were supplied with warm 
wraps, caps, and warm clothing. (" Open Air School for Children is now a 

With the spread of TB in public schools and throughout the community 
increasing, the sanitarium was busting at the seams, and decided they must 
expand the care given, and plan a few additions. In September of 1926, the 
additions were approved by the board of trustees to add forty-two beds to the 
care center. The addition was to be completed by February 1, 1928. This 
addition cost $90,000.00. The Rockford Municipal Sanitarium would now have 
a total of one hundred- twelve beds to accommodate patients. The present 
structure was connected to the older building so that the kitchen, laundry, and 
other areas of the older building would be accessible without having to go 
outside to get from building to building ("New Structure at Sanitarium to Add 
42 Beds"). 

Soon there were more things to worry about other than the TB epidemic. 
A terrible war broke out in Europe. The U.S. was not involved in the war at 
first, but within the next year, they would also be pulled into war. 

The sanitarium went through a number of changes over the years, and 
many times that money was tight. In the 1930's recovery from TB was up to 
60% from 38.9% in 1926. In 1918 there were 1 10 deaths per 100,000 with TB. 
In 1930 that number had decreased to 27 deaths per 100,000. Rockford was 

Page 6 of 9 

leading the fight in the United States in its fight against the White Plague 
("Tuberculosis is Decreasing"). 

In the early 1940's, TB cases increased, because of prompt admittance of 
persons afflicted with the disease, and the residents voted to expand the 
sanitarium again. The new building was dedicated on Oct. 3, 1950. In the 
1950's the sanitarium was always at capacity with one hundred-fifteen 
patients, and another one hundred on a waiting list for admittance ("Governor, 
Doctors Chat at Dedication"). 

In 1958, the third floor nursing home section was opened to fifty-nine 
patients while only forty- four TB patients were being cared for on the first two 
floors. With the introduction of new drugs to treat TB, the sanitarium patient 
count was dropping. More patients were able to be treated and stay at home. 

June Erickson is a labor and delivery nurse at Swedish American 
Hospital. June and her family moved to the area within two blocks of the 
sanitarium when she was only five years old. She said she remembers playing 
on the property, and sledding down the hills around the sanitarium in the 
winter. She was warned, as were most of her friends, to stay away from the 
facility. Parents told their kids that they could get sick if they were around 
these people. They were afraid of these really sick people. June remembers 
the sanitarium as being a "spooky" place (Erickson, personal interview). 

When June moved to this area, there were only six homes around the 
sanitarium. "I remember it was mostly fields around there", she stated. June 
lived by the sanitarium from 1944 to 1962 (Erickson, personal interview). 

Page 7 of 9 

I asked June if she ever remembered anything strange or unusual 
happening there. She said she remembered fire trucks coming one day, and 
rumors that there was a big fire. June wasn't sure if there really was a fire. By 
the time the College of Medicine purchased the property in 1971, June had left 
her family's home, gone to nursing school, and gotten married. 

In May of 1969, the Rockford Register Star reported that the Rockford 
Municipal Sanitarium was in danger of losing its in-hospital TB care license. 
The state was saying that the sanitarium did not meet the new hospital 
licensing standards, and that it would be economically unfeasible to upgrade 
the facility with only thirty-three patients. 

In 1971, with decreasing numbers of inpatients, Rockford Municipal 
Tuberculosis Sanitarium was sold to the University of Illinois, Chicago, to 
become a school of medicine. The Register-Star reported in May of 1969, "If 
buildings could talk, the Rockford Municipal TB Sanitarium would say, "It's 
about time you noticed me!" At this time, the sanitarium was losing its in- 
hospital license. The board was able to pull off a few more years, but in 1971, 
its closing was inevitable. 

The sanitarium continued to see patients on Parkview until nine months 
after the land and buildings were sold to UIC, but patients were finally moved 
to Swedish American Hospital on April 3, 1972 for care ("TB Patients Move 
April 3"). 

Page 8 of 9 

The first students were admitted to University of Illinois Chicago at 
Rockford in the fall of 1972, and the school of medicine graduated its first class 
in 1975. Today the College of Medicine sits on twenty acres, and is in the 
middle of a well-established residential area. (UIC Brochure) 

This writer was able to visit the building, and was fascinated with the 
sculpture of a hand in the lobby. They also have a huge display of invalid 
feeders in cases on the opposite side of the lobby. Could any of these feeders 
have been used on patients at the Municipal Sanitarium? A visitor must sign 
in at the information desk, and there was a security officer at the door. It's 
doubtful that most people there even knew that the building was previously a 
TB sanitarium. It looks so modern today, a place of higher learning, and state 
of the art medical care. 

This writer talked to a few of the ladies in the library to see if they had 
any information on the building before it became the School of Medicine. They 
knew of the building's history, but only had one book, "The Sinnissippi Saga" 
that had only one paragraph on the Sanitarium. They did talk of a Dr. Larson 
that is in the process of writing a book on the building's history, but he is doing 
research, and doesn't have the information ready yet. 

What a change from the early 1900s when the sanitarium opened in an 
area of Rockford that was secluded, and private, to the thriving residential area 
of today. Today this building is very modern. It sets off the road on Parkview, 
and blends well in a neighborhood of nice homes, Sinnissippi Golf Course, P. A. 
Peterson, and the Jewish Community Center. 

Page 9 of 9 

One thing that has not changed is the quality of medical services offered 
today. In the early 1900's the TB sanitarium was well known for the wonderful 
care they gave to patients with tuberculosis. Today, the School of Medicine is 
busy with physicians, residents, and medical students teaching and learning to 
continue that tradition of wonderful patient care. The building at 1601 
Parkview Ave. in Rockford, Illinois has gone through a number of changes since 
1916. The patients are different, but the goal to provide the best care still 
holds true. What will the building be like in the next century? 

Works Cited 
"A Dying Youth Has Named It — Rockford Municipal Sanitarium." Rockford Register Republic . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 1-4-16. 
Erickson, June. Personal Interview. 
"Governor, Doctors Chat at Dedication". Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive 10-4-50. 
"New Sanitarium for Tuberculosis Sufferers Open". Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 1-2-16 
"New Sanitarium Ready to Treat Sufferers. Rockford Register Republic . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 1-3-16 
"New Structure at Sanitarium to Add 42 Beds". Rockford Morning Star. 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 1 1 -27-27. 
"Open Air School for Children is now a Certainty". Rockford Register Republic . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 9-9-16. 
"TB is Decreasing". Rockford Morning Star . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 3- 15-31. 
'TB Patients Move April 3". Rockford Register Star . 

Rockford Public Library Historical Archive. 3-26-72. 
Turpoff, Glen. They Too Cast Shadows. Northern Illinois Building Contractor's Association. 
UIC Brochure. UIC School of Medicine. 

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151 1 Blackhawk Boulevard 
Rockton, Illinois 61072 
(81 S) 624-2644 


405 Charles Avenue • P.O. Box 269 
Mount Morris, Illinois 61054 
(815) 754 6061 




21 70 Pearl Street • P.O. Box 339 

Belvtdere, Illinois 61008 

(815) 547-5461 

The Wagon Wheel Lodge: 

From Riches to Ruins 


Jeremy Brumfield 
28 November 2000 

Weathered Wagon Wheel Sign (Cash 2000). 


Brumfield - 1 

Jeremy Brumfield 
English 101 - IND 
28 November 2000 

The Wagon Wheel Lodge: From Riches to Ruins 

How could a small town in Northern Illinois receive worldwide recognition? The 
answer is to build a totally unique resort, with a trio of restaurants that would keep customers 
coming back year after year. 

The story began in the 1930s. A man by the name of Walt Williamson, the owner of 
Kelly Williamson Oil Company, was searching for a site on which to build a new Mobil Gas 
Station (Talcott). During his search, he came across a seven- stool hamburger stand on the 
corner of Highway 75 and Highway 2 in Rockton, Illinois. Mr. Williamson decided that was 
where he would build the service station. He purchased 134 acres of land on a bank loan of 
$1,500 (Talcott). He then constructed the Mobil Service Station, which, along with the 
hamburger stand, was ready for business in 1936. 

About that time, Mr. Williamson hired a young lady by the name of Gayle Manners. At 
the age of 24, she was hired as the chief cook and bottle washer at the hamburger stand 
(Talcott). The hamburger stand was converted into an actual restaurant shortly thereafter. It 
turned out that Ms. Manners had an extraordinary gift for decorating. She created a rustic motif 
in the restaurant by using a large variety of antiques (Talcott). That decor became very popular 
with the customers. Ms. Manners also applied some other creative ideas. One of those, was the 
idea to keep a stack of postcards on every table, so the customers could write to their friends 
and families (Talcott). On average the restaurant mailed a six-inch stack daily (Talcott). 

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The restaurant quickly made a name for itself. It was attracting customers from other 
towns like Rockford and Beloit. This constant increase in customers led to many expansions 
along with the construction of a few cabins for the overnight guests (Talcott). 

Then on February 10, 1945, business was abruptly halted by a five-alarm fire, which 
ripped through the restaurant (Talcott). The estimated loss was $50,000 (Talcott). 
Miraculously, the restaurant reopened ten days after the fire by converting some of the cabins 
into dining facilities (Talcott). 

Mr. Williamson knew this would only work temporarily, so he turned his focus to 
rebuilding the restaurant. A major concern with the rebuilding, was a lack of sufficient funds. 
This drove Mr. Williamson to look for alternative methods of acquiring the necessary lumber. 
He bought used lumber from a Chicago and Northwestern railroad and from Camp Grant, which 
was being demolished to make way for the Rockford Airport (Talcott). The lumber consisted of 
300 8-foot by 12-foot timbers that were used as beams and uprights and 700 35-foot long poles 
that became the main walls (Talcott). 

A carpenter from Beloit, Arthur E. Staley, was hired to oversee the construction 
(Talcott). Mr. Staley's original estimate was $225,000 (Talcott). This was a substantial savings 
compared to the estimate using new lumber. Also, Reynard Eastman, an architect, was hired to 
help Mr. Williamson with the design (Talcott). Building the lodge with the slope of the land 
instead of into the hill was a unique approach decided on by the two men (Talcott). Many other 
modern innovations were applied throughout the construction. Some of these were hall lights 
that were made from kerosene lamps, an oil-fired boiler and a new method of caulking used to 
seal the gaps between the logs (Talcott). 


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Brumfield - 3 

The finished resort opened in 1949 (Talcott). It had 55 guestrooms, four apartments, a 
lobby and a service station (Talcott). Mr. Williamson named the resort Wagon Wheel because 
he saw the area as the hub of a wheel between the cities of Beloit, Janesville, Freeport, 
Rockford and Belvidere (Talcott). The lodge's popularity continued to flourish. Many 
additions would accompany the original lodge throughout the years. 

The original restaurant, which led to much of the lodge's success, eventually became a 
trio of rooms. The largest and most formal of the dining rooms was the Martha Washington 
Room (Talcott). It was located on the main floor. From its ceiling hung a crystal chandelier, 
which was purchased from the Vanderbilt Mansion for $10,000 (Talcott). Penny Cash, a 
Rockton - Roscoe local citizen recalls visiting the Martha Washington Room as a child. "I had 
never seen anything like it. The linen table cloths and the crystal on the tables were things I had 
only seen in movies", Penny recollects. 

The Garden Room was the lodge's semi-formal dining room (Talcott). This dining 
room was used exclusively for men during the weekday luncheon hours (Talcott). 

The third dining room was the Trophy Room, which was for casual dining (Talcott). It 
was decorated throughout with a large variety of lamps (Talcott). The lamp made from a coffee 
grinder was probably the most unique (Talcott). 

These three dining rooms were the backbone of the lodge. They were recognized 
worldwide and in 1962 received a third ranking in the Duncan Hines Travel Book for the best 
places to eat in the United States (Talcott). 

The many lounges at the resort were also popular additions. The most recognized of the 
lounges were the Cock n' Bull Lounge, The Gay Nineties Bar, and the Key Club. The Key 
Club was also a private dining facility (Talcott). The marble topped bar in the Key Club was 

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Brumfield - 4 

originally built for the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis (Talcott). Six feet had to be removed from 
the bar so it would fit in the lounge (Talcott). 

With the twentieth anniversary of the lounge came the opening of the Wagon Wheel 
Theatre (Talcott). The Red Barn Country Club building was converted to make the theatre 
(Talcott). It showed many plays in that building until 1979, when it was moved to the lodges 
Pigalle Music Hall (Talcott). This meant a lot more room, including a new stage three times the 
size of the old stage (Talcott). 

In 1958, a 16,000 -square-foot Ice Arena was constructed (Talcott). A curling rink was 
also attached to the building (Talcott). That ice arena became the home to a semi-pro hockey 
team (Brumfield). Carroll Brumfield was a fan of the team. "I used to love attending those 
games. The team name was the Wagon Wheel Cardinals. My father and I saw every home 
game the year they won the league championship. It was great entertainment," Carroll said. 
Janet Lynn, an Olympic skater, was also a common sight at the ice arena (Talcott). That was 
where she practiced. In 1968, Janet Lynn, at the age of 15, was the youngest participant in the 
Olympics (Talcott). 

Northeast of the main lodge was a covered bridge leading to the front door of a huge 
building, the Vicking Lodge. This was a conference center and a banquet hall, which could seat 
over 1000 people (Talcott). The hall was built from materials that came from the Douglass 
Aircraft Building at O'Hare International Airport (Talcott). It was built with a rustic design, 
which conformed to the original resort. The Vicking Hall's 8700 square feet was dedicated to 
Henry Gee, a Wagon Wheel employee who died shortly before the opening (Talcott). 

The lodge's candy store was another unique add-on. Frank May was hired to the run the 
shop (Talcott). During holidays, customers would come from Rockford to buy a total of $1,800 

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Brumfield - 5 

to $2000 worth of Christmas candy daily (Talcott). The shop had many famous customers 
throughout the years, such as Mrs. Walgreen and Shirley Temple (Talcott). 

Some of the other additions to the lodge included a bowling alley, a church, horseback 
riding stables and tennis courts (Talcott). The number of rooms also grew from the original 59 
to over 400 in its prime (Talcott). The entire resort took up 300 acres (Talcott). 

The lodge continued to thrive until the death of Walt Williamson in 1979. His death 
lead to three changes of ownership. In 1989, the resort was sold to the Innkeepers Inc. for the 
price of $2.2 million (Talcott). Financial problems with the first buyers allowed Wagon Wheel 
Enterprises to purchase the resort (Talcott). The Wagon Wheel Enterprises then sold to a group 
of investors headed up by Frank R. McKenzie and Angie Quas (Talcott). 

Then, on February 2, 1993, a fire destroyed the bowling alley, the candy store and a 
number of gift shops (Talcott). This was the first of four fires that would all but consume the 
lodge. In 1995, the second fire struck and destroyed the vacant lodge building. This lead to a 
court case in which the land was turned over to the Winnebago County Sheriffs Department 
(Rocha). The land was sold at a Sheriffs sale for $637,625.57 (Anderson). The decaying lodge 
seemed to be doomed. In 1998, the owners missed a number of deadlines to comply with the 
County Health Department, which was seeking demolition (Tastad). As if things weren't bad 
enough, 1999 brought the last two fires. One of the fires brought firefighters from 14 Stateline 
Area departments (Tastad). The police linked two men to all four fires. David Martin and John 
Miller were arrested after several citizens informed the police David Martin was bragging about 
setting the fires (Frampton). 

The Wagon Wheel was at its end. One glance could determine the resort was beyond 
salvage. "The end of an era", was how the death of the Wagon Wheel was sometimes described. 

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Brumfield - 6 

Despite the burnt remains that reside there today, it will always be remembered for the 
popularity and recognition it brought to the small town of Rockton, Illinois. 


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Works Cited 

Anderson, Virginia. "Wagon Wheel Land Sold." Beloit Daily News No Date: No page 

Brumfield, Brandon. Photograph. 2000. 

Brumfield, Carroll. Personal Interview. Nov. 5, 2000. 

Cash, Penny. Personal Interview. Nov. 7, 2000. 

Cash, Penny. Photograph. 2000. 

Frampton, Ken. "To Catch an Arsonist: Loose Tongue Led to Arrest." Rockton Roscoe 

Herald February 24, 1999: Volume 124, Number 8. 
Rocha, Toni. "Wheel's Final Chapter Near." Beloit Daily News March 18, 1997: No 

page numbers. 
Tastad, Ann. "Wheel's Final Turn Nears." Beloit Daily News Saturday, November 21, 

1998: No page numbers. 
Tastad, Ann. "Wheel up in Flames Again." Beloit Dai l y News February 1, 1999: No 

page numbers. 
Talcott Free Library. Wagon Wheel Scrap Book . 

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The remains of the Wagon Wheel Lobby (Brumfield 2000). 

Living Memories 

Winnebago County Courthouse 

By: DebraHart 

December 2, 2000 

Rock Valley College 


1 <jU«H fi4-Cic i- £, ( - ^- 1$ & ? 

DebraHart Hart-1 

English 101 

12 October 2000 

Living Memories 

The prairie land and tall oaks along the riverbanks of Rockford, Illinois that are 
untouched by progress are beautiful to behold. The Indians were here first until the land 
known as Illinois became a state. The treaties were made, and most Indians moved out 
quietly to the west of the Mississippi. The other Indians did not leave quietly. Instead 
there was a war called the Blackhawk War, which was the Union Army vs the Sauk and 
Fox Indians. This war caused the white men to learn about this area around Rockford 
(Church 6). 

The first white men discovered Rockford by an exploration on August 24, 1834. 
Traveling by canoe up the Pecatonica River, they came along a stream at its mouth. This 
was called Kent River. Then they paddled down the Rock River and discovered 
Rockford (6). 

The men's names were Germanices Kent, Thatcher Blake, Mr. Evans and another 
unknown man. They became Rockford's first settlers (6). 

The regional name of Rockford was "Midway," because it was between Galena 
and the village of Chicago (Nelson Hal, 504). In 1835, the name of Rockford became 
inspired by a rocky ford across the Rock River. At a meeting in Chicago, a Dr. J.C. 
Goodhere suggested the name Rockford. The name became permanent for the future city 
(Nelson, Hal 504). 


Daniel Shaw Haight arrived on April 9, 1835, and became the first settler on the 
East Side of Rockford. He built his cabin on the Northeast corner of State and Madison 
(7). In the year of 1936, Daniel Haight's home served as courthouse, school, church and 
public meetings place. In 1838, Daniel Haight built the first building for use as a 
courthouse located at the Southeast corner of Market and Madison Street (Thurston 43). 

The Rock River caused a separation between two villages, the East Side and West 
Side of Rockford. Rockford became incorporated into one community in April 1, 1839. 
This is the making of a city being born with the population of 235 people (Nelson, Hal 

By 1843, the population was 4,609 with a need for a new courthouse and jail. 
Daniel Haight submitted a proposal to build a new courthouse for $4,000 on the East 
Side. There was, however, a group of people wanting the new courthouse on the West 
Side ( Nelson, Hal 105). 

The West Side made a better proposal. This group of private citizens got together 
and paid for the total amount. There were no costs to the county. The jail was first to be 
completed in 1844 and the courthouse was completed the following year (Nelson, Hal 

After 30 years, the city's population growth of 39,938 was causing the 
overcrowding at the jail and the courthouse. In 1885, the city appointed a committee to 
search for an appropriate courthouse. The location would be at West State Street 
(Nelson 107). 

The Committee viewed many courthouse designs, such as the ones in Freeport, Macomb, 
Princeton and Janesville. The Committee was impressed with Freeport's Courthouse and 
decided to compete. The committee had sketches of the floor plan of the Freeport 
courthouse to use as a model (County). 

The committee received eighteen bids to build the courthouse. The accepted and 
approved the plans of Henry L. Gay to design the courthouse. Henry designed the 
courthouse as "French- Venetian, with American Treatment" (Lundin, 102). They also 
approved the contractor, WD. Richardson of Springfield (Church). It was to be 
completed in full by March 1, 1878 (Nelson, Hal 509). 

The people of Rockford watched their future courthouse being constructed in 
front of their eyes. One day, May 11, 1877, the dome on the top of the courthouse 
collapsed. "Just as the keystone was being placed in the dome. . . the brick work between 
the iron and stone gave way, and the entire dome and interior walls of the structure fell in 
with terrible crash. First a single stone was seen to topple from the apex of the pediment 
of the main central tower, then the sides of the tower crumbled and fell inward, the front 
pediment leaped into the air toward State Street, a confused roar- a cloud of whitish- 
yellow smoke-a half dozen men suspended in air, or clinging to balustrade, or ropes, or 
cornices, or taking the death leap- and then a crush and cloud followed by a shudder, and 
afterwards a hush like that of death. 'Good God, it's the courthouse' ran from lip to lip 
along the street. ..." (Nelson, Hal 108, "Court-House Crash"). 


The bodies of the men were mingled and crushed into the debris of 166 tons of 
stone (Archives). Seven men were killed and two men were critically injured and died 
later. There were 14 other men also wounded from the tragedy ("Court -House Crash"). 

Following the incident, the coroner blamed the County Board of 
Supervisors and Henry C. Gay, the architect, as bring responsible for the accident. They 
also blamed the supervisor for his failure to use caution in examining plans, and his 
failure to employ a competent architect to supervise construction (Nelson, Hal 109; Rowe 
99). There was another reason for the mishap. They believed that the bricks were too 
soft to withstand the heavy weight of the dome. This meant that the designer and 
builders were liable and responsible for the tragedy. 

The budget for the construction of the courthouse was $165,000. But it took two 
years to complete it and the grand total cost the city was $21 1,000 (Nelson, Hal 507,109; 
Rowe 99). 

On October 1 1, 1878, the dedication finally came for the city (Nelson, Hal 509). 
The city was handsomely decorated. The flags were suspended across the private 
residences. Business and public buildings were beautifully decorated with flowers and 
evergreens ("It"). The people were happy, and proud of their city that day. Thousands of 
people showed up for the celebration. The laughter, excitement and joy of the people 
were like a contagious disease. The citizens of Rockford had a reputation for hospitality. 
They opened their doors and hearts to welcome visitors to their city. It was as though 
Christmas came early that year. The children ran up and down the dusty streets, causing 
the horses to be restless. The women were talking to one another about their food, which 

was: cabbage salad, biscuits, sardines, fresh game the men and boys caught the day 
before, with fresh apple cinnamon pies for dessert (Thurston 1 12). 

The men talked in the streets about local news they heard that the Central 
Furniture Company had organized capital of $125,000 to build (Nelson, Hal 510; Carruth 
322). Some people were happy because of the possibility new jobs and the building of 
the economy of Rockford. 

The world news was not as happy. There were rumors of war. Greece declared 
war on Turkey (Carruth 323). Other world news was that London had the first electric 
streetlights. This would give the city of Rockford something new to think about for their 
future (Carruth 323). 



ti)J>CP>A&c ConKiYf LQUATHCh. 


The people, who envisioned Rockford as a Forest City, planted elm trees around 
the Old Courthouse (Rockfordiana). 

By was March 1916, the people realized the need for a bigger Courthouse 
(Nelson, Hal 515). There was overcrowding and many departments had to leave the 
building and had to lease elsewhere. Also, there was a need for updating the facilities, 
for example, air conditioning. The contract for building a new section on the north side, 
403 Elm Street went to the Carson Company for $240,558. ("New"; Turpoff 38) 

This project took three years to complete. As much as possible, the designer 
matched the Old Courthouse. In construction of the addition, it took 1,257 tons of buff 
Bedford stone, and 200 tons of special jail steel was used. The total cost was $326,000. 
The building is still present today. It is used for Probation and Juvenile Court ("Finish"). 

Stuart Ralston was on the Board of Supervisors for five years. In his 1975 
memoir about the Old Courthouse, he wrote that there was an attempt when he was on 
the Board to tear down the Old Courthouse (Ralstonl38). "The younger men on the 
Board decided to tear down the courthouse; we looked into the matter very carefully to 
see where the building was about to fall down. We hired Engineers form Chicago, to 
check the foundation, with a fine toothcomb. We reported the result, and found the 
foundation three feet thick as far as one can see. The report ended the argument between 
1930-1970. That saved the county money; forty years we did a good service" (Ralston 


The year 1938 became the time to decide to remove the two winding stairways 
that lead to the entrance to the second floor of the Old Courthouse. The icy stairs steps 
cause several accidents during the winters. Everyone used the lower level ("WPA"; 

In 1948, the fifty-year-old large Elm trees surrounding the courthouse had created 
a huge controverses. The trees had thousands of birds, which made them their home. 
Every night the sheriffs deputies would blast their shotguns at the birds, failed to drive 
them away (Nelson, Hal 109). The Board of Supervisors decided to cut down all the 
stately trees. One night, A.R. Carter moved in with machinery and cut down all the trees. 
That night ended the controversy on what was best: the trees and birds, or no trees and no 
birds (Nelson, Hal 109). 

The Old Courthouse continued deteriorating by 1964; pieces were falling down 
from the roof, causing danger to the pedestrians. The three domes on the roof had to 
come down (Nelson, Hal 112; Nelson, Mervin). 

The County awarded the contact to Sjostrom and Sons for $58,141, to tear down the 
three domes and repair the roof (Nelson, Hal 528). 

Four statues had to come down first. The four statues had guarded each corner of 
Old Courthouse, for 87 years. There is a story behind the statues. They were placed on 
the Old Courthouse in 1878 in nude form. There was a public outcry to put clothes on 
the statues, which caused a delay for the dedication of the Old Courthouse in 1878. The 
eight- foot high statues were made of limestone and weighed half-a-ton each. 


The four statues had names: Charity, Justice, Percy and Moses. There was a 
dispute between the wrecking contractor and the County as to who got the statues. It was 
in writing that the County would get the statues. The statues were put in huge boxes, like 
coffins filled with sand, for protection and stored at the Highway Department for 
safekeeping. They were moved later (Nelson, Hal 507; "Courthouse Loses"; Statues"; 
"Ornaments"; "Dome"). 

It was time again in 1967 to start construction on a New Courthouse on the 400 
block of West State Street. The rise in number of crimes and criminals required a bigger 
Courthouse. As before, there was a need for more room for the use of public records for 
births, marriages, crimes, taxes and a place for occupation for county workers ("Built"; 
Nelson, Hal 535). 

The new modern ten- story Courthouse was completed in 1969. The contract for 
the courthouse was awarded to Sjostrom and Sons 5.2 million dollars (Turpoff 38). 

The New Courthouse gave everyone more elbowroom to work for the people 
("Elbow"). One of the statues, Charity, came out of storage to be at the New Courthouse. 
She greeted visitors until 1991; when she was donated to the Midway Village Museum 
and Center (Midway). The other three statues were too cracked and damaged, no one 
knows where or if they still exit (Rockfordiana). There was another statue, a Civil War 
statue, that survived. Today it is on the corner of Auburn Street and North Main Street. 
It too was originally at the Old Courthouse (Barrie). 

In 1970, the demolition of the Old Courthouse was by Sjostrom and Son (Turpoff 

Don Johnson, a retired Rockford policeman of 29 years, remembered when they 
tore down the Old Courthouse. He felt emotional and sentimental over the destruction of 
the Old Courthouse. He and his colleagues walked the beat in front of the Old 
Courthouse. "We all have memories of the building." Don said, "People died to build the 
old Courthouse." He said, "It would have been good for the city to keep it as a 
monument in the center of the city. We need not to get rid of something because it is just 
old." He also added, " I am old. I am here. Modern is not always good." (Johnson) 

The Police Department and Jail needed more room for expansion in 1974. 
Ground was broken for the Public Safety Building. The building was on the west side of 
the New Courthouse, which made it convenient for the Police Department. There was 
controversy and many problems to build it which were: (1.) The Local 32 Union picketed 
to halt demolition for the Public Safety Building, which took a year; (2) There were 
rejected bids for the building. The county Board wanted K. Schoening & Son an 
architect with more experience, but Schoening rejected the bid. The county had to give it 
to the lower bid to, J.P.Cullen, who received the contract for $4,993,523; (3.) Also, there 
was a title problem. The county had to attain a lawyer to take action to claim, 4' by 65' 
strip of land (Turpoff 39,40). 

Hart- 10 
In three years it was completed, and the Police Department moved in. In the same 
year, prisoners had kicked out cement blocks, and they had to be replaced (Turpoff40). 

Allan Peterson is a retired Rockford Policeman who served for ten years. "In the 
spring of 2000, the county completed the new entrance to the Courthouse." 
Allen added that he watched the building of the new entrance. The entrance was 
changed for a larger screening area to accommodate the traffic of people. Also, the new 
screening area is for everyone's protection. The times we live in require the need extra 
security (Peterson). 

The old and new Rockford Courthouses affected the lives and property of every 
person in Winnebago County. The Old Courthouse survived through three wars. It cost 
too much to renovate. To be cost efficient, the building had to come down to build a new 
modern Courthouse. Today, the Old Courthouse was replaced by the Public Safety 
Building. There are some parts of the Old Courthouse present that were built during 
World War I and in 1878. But part of our past is gone forever; the memories are kept 
alive by these writings, and by our future readers. 

P^Buc 5 AFtr / Sui/ 6/ d & ^ o o o 

DebraHart Hart-1 

English 101 

02 December 2000 

Works Cited 

"Archives Hold Tragedy Story". Register Republic. April 29. 1943. 

Barrie, Vance. Phone Interview. 14 Dec. 2000. 

"Built in Two Parts". Star. 8 Jan. 1950. 

Carruth, Gorton. American And Facts And Dates. HRP; 1987: 322-323. 

Church, Charles. Past And Present Of The City Of Rockford And Winnebago County, 

Illinois. SJCPC 195: 6-7, 98. 
"County Court House Rose To Beat Freeport". Star Newspaper. 20 Mar. 1935. . 
"Court-House Crash". Rockford Journal. 13 May. 1877, Sunday Edition. 
"Courthouse Loses Justice, Charity; Future in Doubt". Star. 7 Oct. 1964. 
"Dome Removal Nears". Star Newspaper. 6 Oct. 1964. 

"Elbow-Room Aplenty In New Courthouse". Republican Register. 20 Dec. 1969. 
"Finish Court House In March". Register Newspaper. 2 Jan. 1917. 
"Improve Looks Of Courthouse". Star Newspaper. 19 May. 1932. 
"It Isn't What It Used To Be". Republic Newspaper. 10 Aug. 1930. 
Johnson, Don. Personal Interview. 26 Oct. 2000. 
Lundin, Jon.Rockford: AHP; 1996: 102. 
Midway Village Museum Center. Photo Copies, Courtesy of Museum. 3 Nov. 2000. 

Nelson, Hal. Sinnissippi Saga; 1967: 105,107-109,112, 504, 505, 528, 535. 

Nelson, Mervin " We Grew; Courthouse Didn't". Rockford Republic Newspaper. 23 Mar. 

"New Court House One Of Finest". Register Newspaper. 5 Feb. 1916 
"Ornaments Put On Court House Created Furore". Star Newspaper. 2 Mar. 1939. 
Peterson, Allen. Personal Interview. 26 Oct. 2000. 
Ralson, Stuart. Stuaart A. Ralston Memoir Oral History. Rockford: Illinois RPL, 1975: 

Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public Library. Rockford, Illnois. Date Unknown. 
Rowe, YordRockford Streamline. 1841-1941: 99. 

"Statues From Courthouse Paced Away In SandBoxes". Star. 9 Jan. 1966. 
Thurston, John. RQmmiscence,Sporting And Otherwise Early Days in Rockford, Illinois. 

Rockford: Illinois, 1891: 43,112. 

Turpoff, Glen. They, Too, Cast Shaawows. Illinois: PNIBCA: 38-40. 

"Winding County Building Steps Will Be Removed". Star Newspaper. 8 July. 1938. 

"WP A Okeh For New Entrance At Courthouse". Register Republican Newspaper. 6 Sept. 

This building used in 1967 as a residence at the rear of 

30: ?N ' Winnebago Street is believed to be a part of 

the county courthouse erected in llS-H. 

Winnebago Co." Court House, 1844-1876 

This artist's sketch portrayed that awful moment when the dome of the courthouse fell while the building 

was under construction in 1877. Nine men were killed. 

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Court House, Rockford, III. 


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The old courthouse with its infamous dome overlooked 
the awning-fronted shops in this 1913 scene on W. 
State Street. 

In 1967 the Winnebago County courthouse had had the 

dome removed and the older section in the background 

had little time left as construction was starting on a 

new building. 

Winnebago County Board Chairman Thomas V. Olson, 
with the assistance of his grandson, Thomas Nygren, 4, 
turned the first shovel of dirt for the new $5.2 million 
county courthouse at groundbreaking ceremonies Nov. 
9, 1967. 

: '*$Wbitect's drawing of new courthouse, work on which was started in November, 1967. 

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